14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools

Posted by | February 26, 2014 | English, Skóli 21.aldarinnar | 225 Comments
14 things


Saying that it has always been this way, doesn’t count as a legitimate justification to why it should stay that way. Teacher and administrators all over the world are doing amazing things, but some of the things we are still doing, despite all the new solutions, research and ideas out there is, to put it mildly, incredible.

I’m not saying we should just make the current system better… we should change it into something else.

I have compiled a list of 14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools and it is my hope that this will inspire lively discussions about the future of education.

1. Computer Rooms

The idea of taking a whole class to a computer room with outdated equipment, once a week to practice their typewriting skills and sending them back to the classroom 40 minutes later, is obsolete.

Computers or technology shouldn’t just be a specific subject, that’s not sufficient anymore but rather it should be an integral part of all the subjects and built into the curriculum.

2. Isolated classrooms

Classrooms can be isolated in two ways. One where parents, teachers or guests are not welcome because the door and drapes are always shut… which has the words “Don’t come in here” written all over it. The other way is is being isolated to all the knowledge outside the 4 walls. For example from the internet, videos, blogs, websites and visits from authors or scientists through Skype, to name a few.

Tony Wagner, the author of the Global Achievement Gap says: “Isolation is the enemy of improvement”. The classroom should be open, teachers should be able to walk in and learn from each other, parents should visit often, f.x. with so called Extra Open Schooldays (where all parents are encouraged to visit classrooms anytime during the day). Isolated classrooms are therefore obsolete.

3. Schools that don’t have WiFi

Schools that don’t have a robust WiFi network for staff and students are not only missing a big change for teaching and learning but robbing the students of access to knowledge and also limiting their chances to learn about the internet and using technology in a safe way.

21st century schools make it possible for students and staff to learn anywhere, anytime and schools that don’t allow that are obsolete.

4. Banning phones and tablets

Taking phones and tablets from students instead of using them to enhance learning is obsolete. We should celebrate the technology students bring and use them as learning tools.

Phones are no longer just devices to text and make phone calls… when they were, then banning them was OK. Today there is more processing power in the average cellular telephone than NASA had access to when they sent a man to the moon in 1969. Yet most students only know how to use these devices for social media and playing games.

Today you can edit a movie, make a radio show, take pictures, make posters, websites, blog, tweet as a character from a book, have class conversations over TodaysMeet and Google most answers on a test with the device in your pocket. We should show our students the learning possibilities & turn these distractions into learning opportunities that will reach far outside the classroom.

5. Tech director with an administrator access

Having one person responsible for the computer system, working from a windowless office in the school basement, surrounded by old computers, updates the programs and tells the staff what tech tools they can and cannot use… is obsolete.

Today we need technology co-ordinators that know what teachers and students need to be successful and solves problems instead of creating barriers. Someone who helps people to help themselves by giving them responsibility and finds better and cheaper ways to do things.

6. Teachers that don’t share what they do

Teachers who work silently, don’t tweet, blog and discuss ideas with people around the world are obsolete. Teachers are no longer working locally but globally and it’s our job to share what we do and see what others are doing. If a teacher is no longer learning then he shouldn’t be teaching other people.

We should all be tweeting, blogging and sharing what works and doesn’t work, get and give advice to and from co-workers around the world. We should constantly be improving our craft because professional development isn’t a 3 hour workshop once a month but a lifelong process.

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” -John Dewey

7. Schools that don’t have Facebook or Twitter

Schools that think putting a news article on the school website every other week and publish a monthly newsletter is enough to keep parents informed are obsolete.

The school should have a Facebook page, share news and information with parents, have a Twitter account and their own hashtag, run their own online TV channel where students film, edit and publish things about school events.

If you don’t tell your story, someone else will.

8. Unhealthy cafeteria food

School cafeterias that look and operate almost like fast food restaurants where staff and students get a cheap, fast and unhealthy meals are obsolete.

A few schools in Iceland and Sweden have turned almost completely to organic foods and given thought into the long term benefit of healthy food rather than the short term savings of the unhealthy. For example at Stora Hammar school in Sweden 90% of the food served is organic.

Children should put the food on their own plate, clean up after themselves and even do the dishes. Not because it saves the school money on workforce but because it is a part of growing up and learning about responsibility. What 21st century schools should be doing as well is growing their own fruits and vegetables where students water them and learn about nature. Setting up a farm to feed students would be optimal, but if that is not an option (for example in big city schools) then they can at last set up a windowfarm in some of the school windows.
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The goal with providing students a healthy meal is not only to give them enough nutrition to last the school day but to make healthy food a normal part of their daily life and get them to think about nutrition which is something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

9. Starting school at 8 o’clock for teenagers

Research has shown over and over again that teenagers do better and feel better in schools that start later. Often parents or administrators needs get in the way of that change. Research (f.x. from the The Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics and University of Minnesota - video) show that delaying school start as little as 50 minutes and making it longer by 30 minutes instead has a positive effect both on learning and activities after school. Schools that don’t do this are obsolete.

Starting later is easy and teachers could use the extra time in the morning to prepare class… it’s a win-win situation.

10. Buying poster-, website- and pamphlet design for the school

When your school needs a poster, pamphlet or a new website they shouldn’t buy the service from somewhere else (although that can sometimes be the case) and have students do it instead. In the best schools of the future, they will be the ones doing it as a real project that has meaning and as a collaborative project in language and art….using technology.

11. Traditional libraries

Libraries that only contain books and chess tables are obsolete.

A 21st century library should be at the heart of the school and a place where both students and staff can come in to relax, read, get advice, access powerful devices, edit videos, music, print in 3D and learn how to code to name a few. This 21st century learning space should give people an equal chance to use these devices and access information. Otherwise these libraries will turn into museums where people go to look at all the things we used to use.

12. All students get the same

Putting kids in the same class because they are born in the same year is obsolete. School systems were originally set up to meet the needs of industrialism. Back then we needed people to work in factories, conformity was good and nobody was meant to excel or be different in that environment. That doesn’t fit our needs today, let alone the future but many schools are still set up like the factories they were meant to serve a 100 years ago.

We should increase choice, give children support to flourish in what interests them and not only give them extra attention in the things they’re bad at. In most schools, if you are good in art but bad in german you get german lessons to get to par with the other students instead of excelling at art… All even, all the same!

Education should be individualised, students should work in groups regardless of age and their education should be built around their needs.

13. One-Professional development-workshop-fits-all

A school that just sends the entire staff to a workshop once a month where everyone get the same are obsolete. Professional development is usually top down instead of the ground up where everyone get what they want and need. This is because giving everyone (including students) what they need and want takes time & money.

With things like Twitter, Pinterest, articles online, books, videos, co-operation & conversations employees can personalize their professional development. (Read about my article on Personalized Professional Development here)

14. Standardized tests to measure the quality of education

Looking at standardized tests to evaluate whether or not children are educated or not is the dumbest thing we can do and gives us a shallow view of learning. The outcomes, although moderately important, measure only a small part of what we want our kids to learn and by focusing on these exams we are narrowing the curriculum. Alfie Kohn even pointed out a statistically significant correlation between high grades on standardized tests and a shallow approach to learning.

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The world today and the needs of the society are completely different to what they used to be. We are not only training people to work locally but globally. With standardized test, like PISA, we are narrowing the curriculum, and all the OECD countries are teaching the same thing. Because of that we all produce the same kind of workers, outdated workers, to work in factories. People who can comply, behave and be like everybody else.

In the global world today it is easy to outsource jobs to someone who is willing to do the same job, just as fast for less money. Therefore we need creative people that can do something else and think differently.

Andrea Schleicher (2010) said: “Schools have to prepare students for jobs that have not yet been created, technologies that have not yet been invented and problems that we don’t know will arise.”

Standardized education might have been the answer once but saying that it’s obsolete is putting it mildly and is only a way to try to repair the broken system. Results of those tests are, according to Daniel Pink (A Whole New Mind, 2005) in direct contradiction to the skills we need today. Those skills are for example design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.

We should be solving real problems, asking questions that matter instead of remembering and repeating facts. Adults’ accomplishments are linked far more strongly to their creativity than IQ (source) and we should be celebrating diverse knowledge and interest instead of trying to standardise knowledge and skills.

I wonder if schools would finally change their direction if we designed a new standardize test that wouldn’t measure numeracy, science and literacy but empathy, creative thinking and communication skills… Maybe that is all we need.

Final thoughts

All the education systems on the planet are being reformed, but I don’t think reform is what we need. We need a revolution and change the education system into something else. It isn’t an easy task, but as S.E. Phillips once said:

Anything worth having, is worth fighting for.

Doing something new and getting poor results on the old test shouldn’t surprise anyone. What is the point of doing something new and different if we get the same results on standardized tests… then we might as well just do factory schooling, conform and comply.

If I had asked the people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” – Henry Ford

That is exactly what we are doing today. We are asking our students to remember more, write better and repeat faster then before… just like we wanted the faster horse, when really we should be asking for the car. Sure the car wasn’t better than the horse in the beginning and our education system won’t be perfect either. It will never be perfect, it should be constantly evolving and we should strive to make it better every day.

I don’t know what a perfect education system looks like, and don’t think it even exist. But I believe that if we talk, try something different, fail forward, investigate and share what we do, not only locally but globally, we can get a lot closer.

If you want to see change in education, you should start in your own classroom.

“Education can be encouraged from the top-down but can only be improved from the ground up”

- Sir Ken Robinson

Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson

Icelandic elementary teacher & Entrepreneur… passionate about the future of education.
www.ingvihrannar.com



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  • Margo Thorn

    Excellent comments. Daniel Pink is a great source to turn to for this. It has been proven that the more creative classes a student takes the higher their academic skills, SAT scores and attendance is. We need to focus on developing both sides of the brain especially the right that has long been neglected in schools. We need students to be able to apply their knowledge and think outside the box. Not just answe rote questions. Have them write mote on tests.

  • http://blog.kenbauer.me/ KenB

    Thanks for sharing this, great list!

    • http://about.me/ingvihrannar Ingvi Hrannar

      You are welcome. Glad you liked it :)

  • Pingback: Literacy with Lafferty » Blog Archive » . . . but they want a faster horse!

  • Catherine Cervantes

    Re: your question about what I liked best and what I disagree with (via Twitter), Ingvi …

    What I liked best about this post:
    - I love the idea of all schools and districts having Facebook and Twitter accounts. This allows for widespread communication of anything the district deems relevant, via social media channels where students, teachers, parents and administrators are already consuming information – and it also allows these groups to receive notifications every time the school/district posts (very helpful for school closings, event announcements, etc.)
    - It would be great if all districts were able to establish robust wifi networks that allow for focused, intentional BYOD programs (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.). This could save districts money by allowing the students to use their own devices. Project-based learning could be incorporated for students to help each other gain access to more devices in the classroom for those who don’t already have the devices. Why buy more devices when students could use what they already have? (I realize that the widespread wifi access may not be easy for a district to obtain.)
    - It would be wonderful to primarily healthy options on high school cafeteria menus. Again, project-based learning could be employed to have students create apps and Pinterest boards for each week of cafeteria food, showing the benefits of the healthy foods and connecting them to resources on how to enjoy a well-rounded healthy lifestyle.
    - Having kids create marketing materials for the school as part of class credit and projects is an awesome idea! This is what they’ll be doing in future Marketing departments, so why not start them now and get them “college and career ready”?
    - Personalized learning (not the same instruction for everyone) for students AND teachers (professional learning) – can’t say enough about the benefits of this.

    And you asked what I disagreed with. I didn’t necessarily “disagree” with anything, but I would like to add thoughts on some of your points where my thoughts are a little different:
    - I don’t see computer rooms as a bad thing. They can be useful in some instances.
    - Starting school later in the morning … Not all students can take the bus to school because of cuts in transportation funding. With more parents working these days, the parents may need to drop the kids off at school before going to work. One hour or so in before school activities or hanging out may be okay, but 2 hours …? I’m not sure I would want kids to be hanging around school from 7:00 to 9:00 am each morning after their parents drop them off for work. However, this could become an opportunity for students to have more study time, explore their learning interests, etc. – if resources were available within the school to support that.
    - I believe standardized tests as they are currently designed are not a horrible thing. Yes, I think tests should be more than multiple choice and should test the true knowledge and learning of the whole individual. Until we have a nice way to accomplish that and resources (i.e. probably humans) to support the grading of the ideal type of tests, I’m glad that we have standardized tests in place. I don’t think grades should be based on these tests, though, and I hope more and more teachers allow for multiple forms of assessment, and even individualized assessments when possible.

    Again, great post and I look forward to exploring more of your posts in the future!

  • Keesha Hinkle

    starting school later might be a great idea, but how does a school manage the logistics of getting all their children to different schools throughout the day; start elementary school at 10 and go til 6 in the evening?

    • Darla Sowders

      Have the elementary students start earlier and go home earlier too. There is no reason why a six year old should spend as much time in class as a seventeen year old. None at all. Not pertaining to THEIR needs anyway.

      • Ashley Hay

        This idea would cost so much money. In many distrcits, elementary, middle, and high school students ride the same bus. In order for one level to start/dismiss at different times than the others, the buses would have to run longer. Ok, we’ll pick up all the elem. kids and take them to school first. Then, we’ll go get the middle kids and take them. Last, we’ll get the high school students and take them. The buses would be running from 5:30am-11ish. Same idea with pick ups. Drivers would start their pre-tripping around 2 and pick ups about 2:45 and not finish until what, 6? There’s no way this would happen.

        • Cindy Teigland

          It happens everyday where I live, first kids picked up at seven, next seven thirty, then eight. The first bus makes the third run. Fewer bus stops, more kids at each stop.

        • lhpartridge

          This is the way we’ve done it in our district since the mid-80s. The elementary routes run first and school starts at 7:45. The middle schools start at 8:15, and the high school recently changed their start times from 8:45 to 8:35. Our kids are still sleepy first period, but that’s because they still stay up too late. I can’t imagine what we could get out of them if we tried to start before 8:00. Probably just snores.

      • Kiki Fogg

        Well, THEIR needs include food & shelter, which are hard to provide if a single parent loses his/her job for consistently leaving mid-shift to pick up their kids. This would literally require a complete upheaval of the standard work schedule, which will not be possible as long as the old corporate guard clings to power.

        On a more positive note: It would also require society to stop senselessly vilifying parents who leave 14-17 year-olds unattended & force the law to recognize children & teenagers as separate groups of minority with graduated tiers of rights, privileges, & responsibilities. That would definitely be an improvement over the current “you have nothing until the day you turn 18, then you suddenly have everything” system.

      • Cindy Teigland

        Our school district runs three separate schedules for elementary, middle, and high school. The buses run three schedules. Start times are only different by thirty minutes per level. 7:30, 8:00, 8:30. High school first, then those buses run the elementary kids last. It works.

        • litprof

          Studies show that high school kids need the later start times more, for biological reasons.

          If your buses run in three shifts at those times, the order should be middle schoolers first, elementary kids next, and high school students last.

          That would work better.

          • Cindy Teigland

            Then “studies” should take the emphasis off of taking AP courses, doing extra curricular activities, especially athletics. I lived in a district with block scheduling (loved it) and the 8:30 start time (hated it) for high school. When they get out at 4 it completely messes up the time available for homework or even an after school job. And forget about having time for a meal or snack before athletic activities after school. If you’ve ever been anywhere near a teenage boy you know they cannot go 6 to 8 hours without eating.

            I know there isn’t a one size fits all fix for the system, but until the education system gets more funding there won’t be a leap to that much technology, especially when inner city kids and their schools can’t afford many of those things.

      • Keesha Hinkle

        I don’t see how that is not pertaining to their needs… American children’s test scores fail to compete with global test standards… They need to be in class as much as possible. In quite possibly the most industrialized country in the world, where all most children have to do is go to school, I do not believe that is acceptable. but then maybe that proves your point; maybe their needs are not being met, and we should have them all working in one way or another; in factories, on farms, in people’s houses… maybe then they might appreciate the opportunity to go to school everyday. Many children in other countries do not have that opportunity. Even if a 6 year old is in school the same amount of time that a high school student is, that does not mean that they have the same expectations as a high schooler; that would not be meeting their needs. kids have breaks, recess, music class, lunch, sometimes even nap time if needed. To say that that is not pertaining to their needs I think would be detrimental to their socialization and ability to learn to focus for more than a few seconds or minutes. And in a society where it often takes two parents or two jobs to make ends meet, it often falls incumbent on older siblings to take care of younger ones. If younger children get home before the person expected to take care of them, how would that be pertaining to their needs? If younger children and older children rode the same bus home at the same time (in order to make the logistics of later-starting high school work), couldn’t that possibly be a threat to younger children’s safety (a main reason for dividing up the grades)?

    • Jean

      One bus for each neighborhood. Picks up all kids k-12. It drops off students at different schools. This would eliminate half empty buses and three different buses driving the same route twice a day. It’s actually cost effective and with the savings, you could hire a bus aide.

  • Dana

    We are up to date with everything in our homeschool.

  • Kiki Fogg

    For the most part I agree; however, the banning of cell phones is not to curb distraction, but to curb cheating.

    • John Hind

      If you have to ban cell phones to curb cheating, it’s time to re-evaluate what you’re doing to assess student learning.

      • Kiki Fogg

        It sounds like you’re suggesting we should never assess students on what they’ve learned or can reason on their own, without external sources on hand.

        • John Hind

          I taught history and economics for eight years before becoming an instructional specialist, and I would suggest that we re-think our desired learning outcomes in the 21st century. Is it more important that Johnny or Suzie can parrot back the names of Henry VIII’s wives or the definition of diminishing marginal cost? Or would we rather they be able to evaluate the reasons for the growing rift between Henry and the Papacy, or to explain why a monopoly may not necessarily have to be a bad thing?

          Our kids have the entirety of human knowledge at their fingertips, and I only half-jest when I say that I’m convinced we will have become the Borg from Star Trek by the end of this century (if not sooner). Given the new realities of the world our children are entering, education is becoming less and less about rote memorization of simple facts, and more about the ability to digest the wealth of information available to them and synthesize it into something more useful and relevant.

          • Kiki Fogg

            My friends teach Math & English to kids who have been raised by lazy/ignorant parents to think that logical reasoning is evil & that reading is a waste of time. What of the student who, instead of critically thinking up her own interpretations of literature or word problems, just looks up & parrots someone else’s work?

          • PN8891

            Facts you can test on a right/wrong basis; critical thinking and synthesis are frequently tested on that basis, but the judgment ends up being a subjective one by the teacher. My mother has a story in which one of her high school teachers flunked her on a paper (she was supposed to write about the underlying “deeper meaning” or “agenda” of a particular novel, or something to that effect) because her teacher said she’d come up with the “wrong” explanation for what the author was really trying to say. She then did some research and found that the novelist himself had said that his novels had no such symbolic meanings, but that people could make them up if they wanted to!

          • Emma

            That just sounds like a case of one poor, narrow-minded teacher rather than an argument against assessment of critical thinking skills. A good teacher would reward a student’s ability to argue their interpretation with examples, precedent, and/or the backing of established critical literature, regardless of whether they personally agreed.

          • John Milligan

            In the “hard” sciences, there are no subjective judgments of the answer to a problem. It’s either correct or it’s not. I don’t judge if it’s something with which I agree. It’s been experimentally validated.

          • PN8891

            That’s what I mean–there are correct answers, and there are incorrect answers, in math and the “hard” sciences. When people start trying to test “critical thinking skills” or something like that, it starts to get muddy…

    • Raichu

      Why not just ban them during tests then?

      • Kiki Fogg

        Even that would be more restriction than the author seems to want.

        • Raichu

          I think you’re probably misreading it then. The author did not say “students should never have to take tests without the aid of external sources”.

          • Kiki Fogg

            He explicitly states that phones should be used in part *because* students can “Google most answers on a test with the device in [their] pocket”. Not sure how else to read that.

          • Raichu

            I read it as a demonstration of the sheer power of the internet to find information.

          • PN8891

            Which makes Kiki’s point–students don’t have to learn anything if they can just Google answers! Why even go to school if you’re going to be dependent on your cell phone (which you could use just as easily if you didn’t go to high school) anyway?

          • Raichu

            You can’t Google critical thinking skill, though. Or any other developed skill.

          • PN8891

            I’ve always been skeptical of whether it is even possible to objectively test “critical thinking skill.” It seems to me that such tests frequently end up testing whether the student agrees with the teacher about a particular issue, or how closely their points of view are aligned about a particular subject.

            Furthermore, I think that true critical thinking skills can be learned as much from the world outside school as inside, and that even in school the habit of critical thinking is often un-taught as easily as it is taught (e.g. from history, political science, social science, and religious studies teachers who treat their points of view as objective truth, and their students’ differing views as “wrong answers”).

          • Raichu

            I agree, you really can’t test critical thinking skills very effectively, at least not in any real depth. That’s why standardized tests being treated as the pinnacle of academic achievement is such a problem.

            Critical thinking skills can be learned anywhere, if you have the right teachers (which sometimes means your own curiosity). If schools do a poor job of reinforcing them, then that’s something that needs to be addressed.

            History, however, I will disagree with you on because history is basically by definition the study of facts. Sometimes facts are important to know.

    • Tired of Black Helicopters

      All of our district schools have wi-fi and 1:1 digital learning. You can ban the cellphones, but students are far more industrious and creative than you give them credit for. Those phones are still there, banned or not, and most with parent permission. Our system has chosen to put in stricter filter systems. We also use several tests that customize to the student. If a student gets an answer correctly it moves on to a harder question and continues in that path. If they get an answer incorrect then it starts to ask easier questions until the student gets to a point where they understand. Those tests, granted, just part of the testing selections here, judge the students’ understanding of a concept. It doesn’t give them an A or a B. It sometimes comes back that this “4th grade student” only comprehends this topic on a 2nd grade level, and then our teachers know who needs more focused work and who can move on. Hard to cheat on a test that is different for every student. Especially when you have an excellent teacher at the front of the class monitoring everything, to include what is on each computer screen through a program called DyKnow. Finding solutions is our goal, not dismissing technology because there are some challenges

      • Kiki Fogg

        I’m no technophobe, & I’m hugely in favor of using web & computer/mobile resources as part of lessons & assessments. My original intent with this post was simply to point out an apparent oversight in the article.

  • Real world

    I like the fantasy this article puts in place for the richer school districts. Unfortunately, reality needs to be put back on the table. Most low income communities are lucky to have the computers that work, Wi-Fi is a luxury, and differentiated instruction is only successful if a combined effort from the parents, teachers, administrators and political figures work together. Not!

    • Mike Reid

      I sat on the school board for a very small rural county in Virginia with a budget so small you would wonder how we did it! If your school districts budget is smaller than $12 million, then maybe you are correct. But if your district has more money, and the population really cares about educating their young people, then it can be done. We got grants that supplied the whole system for almost no cost. GRANTS! Tell your board to use them!

      • Sajwanih

        Lol, you must just have problems with GOP morons: “oh yes, let’s just simultaneously lower funds available for the most promising of all industries (education), and increase funds available for the least (war), so we can line our pockets in the incredibly small long term. Oh, and while we’re at it, don’t bother even trying to reduce human generated waste or the rapid depletion of essential resources that our very lives depend on, why would anyone want to do that?” What a joke… I’d like to see how the “cost-benefit analysis” that those clowns like to throw around all the time would account for the invisible, and single most significant benefit in any society – that of the compounding effects of a good education (or a bad one in this case) and the resulting hurricane of innovation that comes with it.

        • Mike Reid

          Actually it was quite the opposite. Its a fairly Republican leaning county and most are highly in favor of public school education. However, they feel that alot of the way school is managed could be more efficient,and turns out they are correct. We outsourced our nutrition program for something cheaper and more nutritious that still allows our large free and reduced lunch population to continue receiving those services. We outsourced our custodial and the schools are cleaner with less cost. We mainstreamed our central office with computer programs that allow people to work on other projects and more face-to-face items that are more necessary than deciding which transportation routes are more efficient or which data do you actually want me to gather. This has all been streamlined and computerized. Our community is big on being green. All food waste is collected and composted. There are no throwaway dishes. We have a large agriculture program at both the middle and high school. A huge greenhouse in the back is used to grow mostly organic fruits and veggies which are sold to the community to support the programs. Paper is collected in all the classrooms as part of the recycling clubs and returned to the greenboxes for recycling. All water systems have been reduced to low flow and we are currently working on a grey water recovery system for landscaping. We also work cooperatively with neighboring school districts to provide more services at a lower cost. We afford our students the choice of 2 governor school programs, a vocational center, a credit recovery program, 2 alternative schools (one for behavior, the other that is open from 7 am to 10pm allowing students whose life choices have kept them from attending “regular” school programs), dual enrollment that allows some graduating seniors to graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, an autism program, and a well-respected special education program. We partner with our library system to offer high end databases for research. We partner with our sheriff’s office on the SRO program which costs us absolutely nothing and we have an SRO in EVERY school. So as you can see, alot of problems can be resolved with greater efficiency, not necessarily more money.

          • Sajwanih

            That doesn’t speak to priorities or incentives. You don’t incentivise the actions your county took by dropping the amount of total funds available. This principle is generally true in economics. When the economy is experiencing a contraction, you inject funds, you don’t pull them out. When you want higher quality workers, you offer more to them in both benefits and pay. Efficiency is something that will occur as smarter minds are incented to join in on the industry. Another thing that, is generally a plain misconception, is that outsourcing provides more for less, when in fact that is usually in a minority of the cases. In fact, by and large, efficiency usually drops, as does quality. The fact is, education in our country is crap, and by and large it is well known to be as a result of a republican agenda to follow misguided psuedo-economic arguments that put our military budget at a ludicrously high level, and our education system at the lowest rung of developing nations in terms of quality. So although your anecdotal case may somehow (although this still seems doubtful) confirm your own leanings, it is not generally the case. But it does connfirm on thing for sure – that my hypothesis wasis correct – the GOP is responsible for your lack of funding.

          • Sajwanih

            That doesn’t speak to priorities or incentives, it simply speaks to your actions in a very particular case. You don’t incentivise the actions your county took by dropping the amount of total funds available. This principle is generally true in economics. When the economy is experiencing a contraction, you inject funds, you don’t pull them out. When you want higher quality workers, you offer more to them in both benefits and pay, the same is true for schools. Efficiency is something that will occur more generally, and more naturally, as smarter minds are incented to join in on the industry. Efficiency that is not forced in order to make an invalid point about a faulty policy. Another thing that is generally a plain misconception is that outsourcing provides more for less, when in fact that is usually in a minority of the cases as many studies show. In fact, by and large, efficiency usually drops, as does quality. The fact is, education in our country is crap, and by and large it is well known to be as a result of a republican agenda to follow misguided psuedo-economic arguments that put our military budget at a ludicrously high level, and our education system at the lowest rung of developing nations in terms of quality. Also, I would suggest to your republican leaning friends that they spend the time they put into scrutinizing the public school system into their beloved military budget, they might encounter a lot of what you deem to be “inefficiencies”. So although your anecdotal case may somehow (although this still seems doubtful) confirm your own biases, it is not generally the case. But it does confirm one thing for sure – that my hypothesis was correct – the GOP is responsible for your lack of funding.

          • Mike Reid

            I don’t know why you feel the need to place blame to a certain subgroup of society. Educational funding is a local issue. Since being on the board, we have received less funding from the National government. The president is responsible for creating that budget. The Senate has been Democratically controlled since his first election. The House was controlled by Democrats for the first 3 years, and Republicans the last 3 years. This hardly represents an oppressive GOP majority. Funding actually received from the National government has dropped since 2009. The state government provides a large chunk as well. Funding from the state has been relatively stagnant since 2009. Where we are hurting is on the local level. This is not necessarily driven by politics, but by the citizenry. Our county has a large unemployment rate due to the current economy. Those that do work (75%), often commute 40 miles or more to their jobs. They are the tax base in our county as we have very few industries and very little businesses that hire more than 50 people. Asking the citizens to fork out more money is not really an option, unless you suggest the local government take from the poor to give to the poor. So improving efficiency is a necessary step. I never said to anyone that this would be a solution for their school division, but it has worked for us. As far as injecting funds into the system, that has been through the grants that I suggested in the first response. No need to ask the citizens for money when you can find grants that are willingly giving it to you. The areas we outsourced have been working with greater efficiency that what we provided locally. I forgot to mention that none of our local staff was replaced but rather absorbed by those companies that we outsourced too (a requirement for our division). Our teachers have received an 8-9% raise over the past four years and their insurance plans all come with savings accounts to be used. $2500 in savings account with a $2500 deductible. So in essence, they have a zero deductible and the insurance pays for everything else. We even offer all retirees the same benefits, some who retired over ten years ago. So I think those benefits are excellent compared to other districts around us (I can’t speak nationally). Instead of blaming one group or another, I still feel it is necessary to open up a dialogue with all groups since education is the foundation of our society. As far as incentives go, there is only one: the children. No one prides themselves on how much money is saved, or how much is spend per pupil, etc. Rather, we pride ourselves on how well our students perform, their happiness values, and their ability to find college, work, or military upon graduation. What greater incentive do we need? We are constantly trying to find ways to have more programs to support our students, and finding ways to save money helps move funds directly to the students. By the way, even though our citizenry lean Republican in national and state voting, 3 of the 5 local Board of Supervisor members are Democrats. The school board is not allowed to run by party, but I know that 4 of the 5 supported the Democrats in both the last national and state elections. So, rather than placing blame on one party (in your case the GOP), we are working together to come up with creative solutions to our economic woes. And quite honestly, I think it is working quite well. And speaking of defense budgets, Obama’s budgets have called for an increase in spending up until 2013. Check the data, its all in there. It 2013, the Republicans gained control of the House and that is when defense spending actually started decreasing. If you have different data, please share, as I am going by those published by the white house budget office and may have overlooked some contingencies.

          • Monty Miller

            Wasting your time. Too busy bashing the GOP

          • Sajwanih

            Your comments about education spending dropping since 2009 would make sense, since the 2009 budget included an abnormally large boost for education arising from the stimulus. This was signed in by Obama but probably was not maintained at such a high level because it was for stimulus purposes only, so of course it would drop somewhat. Your unemployment and financial hardship is probably due to a staggering degree of inequality of income and taxation between the rich and the poor, to which you can most likely thank the Bush Tax Cuts and his complete lack of regulation of the banks that eventually lead to the meltdown of the entire economy. The temporary increase in spending on military was, in large part, due to the fact that Obama had to deal with the failed wars that Bush began, not to mention the resentment that was created overseas by Bush with his foreign policy failures. This assumes I’m Democratically leaning, however, simply because I criticize Republicans which is simply not the case. It is the case that most Republicans run on a platform that seeks to reduce funding to education while simultaneously increasing funding for a military death machine based on the another outdated concept – that military spending produces economic prosperity in the form of a multiplier. This, however, is most untrue, and reading into more modern economic literature, you’ll find that investing into safety nets, innovation and education provide, by far, higher overall, and longer sustained multipliers. This is why there is some element of doubt I still have with regard to your school’s narrative because at some point most, if not all, of our major economic and social problems tie indirectly or directly to a faulty belief system held by Republicans. Either way I applaud your progress, but I seriously doubt that there is no GOP policy to blame here for a lack of funding, especially since it just so happens that your state and county are fairly Republican leaning. What I’m saying is not that schools should not focus on efficiency, but that a lack of funding is not going to solve that problem and in fact will most likely exacerbate it as I’m sure would be evidenced by average (keyword: average) performance in your state were I to dig further.

          • Shane Sams

            Wait…you just said you revolitionized you schools buy funding with grants….but then your money dropped from the government. lol

          • Rob

            Your bias against the GOP is obvious, which leads to a very basic question: The Democrats and this administration have been in charge going on six years and you’re blaming the GOP?

          • Sajwanih

            How anyone can not have a bias against the GOP is my question. Having a bias against the GOP is simply having a bias against idiotic policy. What is the GOP’s platform anyways? So far all I can gather is that a) they believe in Supply Side Economics (which is a joke in and of itself especially considering the principles it espouses became outdated and obsolete hundreds of years ago) and b) that they want some sort of “traditional values” to be returned to America. This last one, for all I can tell, is basically code for turning the entirety of the US into some giant gun toting hick town complete with racial, ethnic, gender and religious based discrimination. At least the Democrats are working on things that are pressing, such as reducing the ridiculous costs of healthcare, cutting military spending, promoting sustainability and innovation, and promoting STEM education rather than trying to devolve back into a state of science deniers (read Decline and Fall by NewScientist and see how many times they specifically blame republicans for the majority of science denial in the US). If you read my comments above you can clearly see that most of the problems we are dealing with currently arose during Bush’s presidency and continue because of GOP fabricated fiction.

          • Don Foss

            You’re in a Bizzaro World. Typical of you nutters. Meanwhile, for the last forty years American public education has been in steep decline and is now a laughing stock – and you will tell us its due to all those conservative teachers and administrators, those Republican controlled teachers’ unions, the uber-conservative text book publishers revising our history, the Right Wing’s obsession with teaching kids to feel good about themselves by praising and celebrating mediocre work and convincing children they are super special, though it’s you liberals who know that self esteem is earned by reaching high standards and by achievement and performance. The list goes on. Your side is to blame, Numbnuts. You and your ilk and your warped and ignorant view of the world and life.

          • Sajwanih

            Teachers wouldn’t need unions if they received competitive pay, imbecile. That’s the point I was making if you could actually understand it. You attract talent by paying well and incentivising, pick up a book for once. And I suppose what you’ll tell ME next is that publicly funded schooling is a waste of taxpayer money and more reach being imposed by a fascist government… pshhh, please, we don’t all shop at Walmart and go visit the creation museum for our history lessons. And please, don’t start with that liberals = bleeding hearts BS just because you can’t formulate a real argument you anti-intellectual scumbag.

          • Don Foss

            You’re repeating yourself. Back to Salon.com for some different nutter talking points, Goofball.

          • Sajwanih

            I’m actually waiting for you to say something relevant to the discussion since you added precisely nothing thus far, but that’s quite obviously a waste of time so thanks for reiterating that.

          • Theresa

            I am just amazed at how blinded you are by hate and discrimination for others! You are offering only finger pointing and excuses instead of solutions. I am also curious if you have ever taken any economics or government accounting courses recently, if not, you should probably look online (there are quite a few for free). A basic understanding of how these things work will help explain why the current budget and other things are not working. Before you start name calling and pointing fingers, educate yourself!

          • Sajwanih

            I actually have, I’m majoring in Business Economics as we speak with a 3.6 GPA in a program that is ranked 22nd in the nation. Discrimination doesn’t mean I’m wrong. In the area of policy decisions I discriminate with full force, and it is because policy decisions affect everyone, not just those that support them. When they are faulty, like GOP policies, they add problems to everyone’s lives. If it were the case that the GOP could carry out their policies in isolation and only screw themselves, I wouldn’t need to “discriminate” against their policies as you call it.

          • Sajwanih

            Also, your arguments are completely irrelevant to the conversation, I was speaking to funding, not management of the education system. Clearly I agree with a reform of the way it’s run or I wouldn’t have visited this page.

          • J Lew

            Prop up the strawman and knock it out of the park. The caricature of the GOP platform was interesting (and by “interesting” I mean completely ridiculous). Having worked in a public school, international schools and a charter school, there are a lot of factors that go into education. No amount of money can replace parents that take a part in their child’s education. I agree with a lot of what was said in the article, but most of the things in here had nothing to do with money. Funding is not the biggest problem that we have. Funding and management go together. The public school that I worked at had a ludicrous number of office workers, many who sat around and did little. The charter school had only a few who worked very hard. The $40,000 per person can do a lot.
            It’s interesting that the person who wrote the article wanted to go away from the assembly line way of educating kids and yet liberals are the ones who try to stymie innovation by keeping old teachers in classrooms who stick to “what has always worked.” Conservatives have generally been in favor of school choice which has created new innovations in education such as differentiated school like STEM schools, medical schools (in Raleigh/Durham), etc.
            Get in a classroom, talk to conservative teachers (they do exist) and don’t take all your info from MSNBC.

          • Sajwanih

            So, I’d really like to see your empirical evidence that points to Liberals being the supposed cause of the management issues in these schools. I’d also like to see your economic evidence that points to lowered funding equating to better managed systems. Also, let me restate what exactly was going on above in my arguments since clearly you don’t really know what’s going on (in regards to your straw man claim). I made a sarcastic supposition that the funding problems Mike Reid was facing in his school were probably due, in some way, to Republican ignorance on the matter, fully expecting a retort on this end because of the way Mike had phrased his previous post. He had mentioned that his school had done some things to become more efficient at managing with a lower budget, and I could tell that the slant was leaning Republican because they are always trying to prove their fallacious and illogical arguments with conjecture and anecdotal evidence. This particular post stemmed from the belief that Republicans have that cutting funding to schools will somehow magically improve their efficiency. Mike Reid attempted to provide, impliedly, anecdotal evidence for this ridiculous concept. Receiving the reply I expected, that of a defensive one, I replied with my reasoning supporting my belief that Republicans are most likely to blame for lowered funding in public schools. I also provided evidence for my claims that this lowered funding does not provide the ends Republicans seek – that of better managed schools. It’s a simple economic argument that is generally true. I then received a few angry and nonsensical posts and Republican propaganda which I responded to in kind with the same BS that was thrown at me. Not one of these was a straw man argument as you claim, but if you do have evidence to the contrary, again, please provide and paraphrase it.

          • Sajwanih

            Also, if you want to talk commitment to STEM fields, you can’t get much more committed than the platform of this presidency, albeit with the caveat that Obama is slower to create the changes he proposes, but at least he commits to the right ones.

            http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp

            http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/k-12/educate-innovate

            A far cry from the current Republican track record of attempting to pit personal and religious views against scientific advancement (Stem Cell Research, Energy Research, Climate Change… *runs out of breath*…)

          • Sajwanih

            While you’re away, maybe you could find that evidence that supports your claims that liberals are at fault for text book scams, badly managed schools, “rewriting history” (hah, that was a real good one), the self-esteem movement and the myriad of others you made here.

          • Don Foss

            Let’s start with this:

            http://godfatherpolitics.com/12555/ap-history-textbook-rewrites-second-amendment/

            And of course you will refute the entire thing, so I’ll keep them coming until you cannot avoid seeing a pattern and you finally squirm your weaselly ass back over to that hate site Salon with your nutter buddies whose IQs and shameless partisanship preclude them from any rational or critical thought .

          • Sajwanih

            Yet you point me to some low-tech flash-choked shitfest of a conspiracy website and accuse me of getting points from this “Salon.com”. I’m actually willing to bet you’re some kind of 60 year old know-nothing who can barely operate the computer he’s using right now. My partisanship doesn’t exist, I don’t support democratic parties either, as I mentioned before, but clearly you don’t actually read before posting inane comments. I simply support them more than I support the idiotic crap that comes from Republicans. Try standing on two legs with your trickle down economics now that Piketty has officially blown that argument to smithereens. Try arguing that climate change isn’t largely a factor created by humans now that a majority of the scientific community has officially voiced evidence to support that. Your party doesn’t run on reason which is why all you can do is sit here and make weak arguments and sling insults, if I can even call them that. Go crawl back into the uneducated hole you came from and degenerate back up into the trees where you belong.

          • Don Foss

            Climate change now? Where did that come from? Get off the drugs, Dicksnot. You’ve got more problems than I’m qualified to deal with here.

          • Sajwanih

            Hmm… let’s think about this, even though I know thinking is a pretty big challenge for you as a Repub. Let’s analyze the logical flow here. You’re a conservative, conservatives have been opposed to the highly evidenced claim that humans have caused climate change since the 90′s despite this already having been established everywhere outside of their own ignorant circles (source: http://www.climateaccess.org/sites/default/files/McCright_Challenging%20Global%20Warming.pdf , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change). Thus I’m attacking the irrationality of your party that disqualifies it from having a legitimate position based on the most important of human faculties – reason. This also leaves those who follow its illogical policies in the same boat – irrational, ignorant. Thus you are irrational and ignorant… This really is hopeless, but yet so fun, almost like training an animal. Say something dumb again so I can provoke you even more :D .

          • Don Foss

            Just curios. How old are you? Sixteen? Seventeen?

          • Sajwanih

            24, and definitely able to pick out sources that don’t have blatant spelling errors and misinformation. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for your little website above.

          • Eh

            Ecologist here- very entertained by all of this. I saw the climate change comment. Had to speak up- we make models on a regular basis that “support” both claims. While we can’t help but assume our actions have an effect on climate change (they must right?- and I believe they do), there are too many variables to conclusively say one way or the other. Feel free to respond to this but I will most likely never be back on here- just happened upon the discussion. With that said, I also know this has little to do with the discussion, just my area so I felt compelled.

          • Sajwanih

            That’s great and all, except that there are often too many variables to say “conclusively” one way or another about anything that doesn’t offer a precise control or counterfactual. That’s the way statistics works. You gauge it with a level of confidence. This consensus is widely recognized, however, so I’d really like to know what sources you identify with an opinion to the contrary, because there are very very few. http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus

          • lhpartridge

            So American public education was fine back in the 1960s when segregated schools were the norm and students who wanted to drop out and work did so freely? Are you saying that our schools would be doing just fine again if we still had segregated schools and no longer tried to educate everyone under the age of 18? Wow. That’s a bizarre point of view for 2014.

          • Don Foss

            Your reading comprehension and inference indicates you have recently come out of the American public school system.

          • Don Foss

            Apples and oranges, Genius. Like saying the 1927 Yankees sucked because they didn’t have any Black players because of segregation. And kind of like the fool sajawah above trying to change the subject, read my mind, and judge me from his mind reading. It’s what your side does way too often, and it’s only one reason why reasonable people rarely take anything far left fools like you say seriously. It is what has become of you guys, and I can guess the current education system has something to do with it. Sajwanih is 24 and a recent product of it. He’s one of millions of examples.

          • Don Foss

            “If you read my comments above you can clearly see …” that you’re a partisan hack and a gullible moron.

          • Rob

            The “Bush did it” argument is weak at best. Again, going on six years and this administration has failed miserably to correct any of the problems they could have a positive effect on – like jobs! But, hey, you have all the answers! You should run for public office and “serve” your fellow citizens. And resorting to name-calling is ineffective and rude.

          • Sajwanih

            The “Bush did it” argument is one that is a consensus across the globe except for in the bubbles that are conservative mindsets. It’s only reiterated so often because no one on that side of things understands the depth of how much of a joke he was. That it took this long to finally see progress in the economy is only a testament to the havoc his administration wrought through pure ignorance. Name calling has it’s uses, and I’m definitely not ashamed of using it in those situations. As for running for an office, I really don’t see the point seeing as how this faith rather than fact based conservative community we have in the US wouldn’t listen to reason anyways. Not to mention the fact that most of these things are just common sense. You want results at the administrative level of schools, I’ll tell you one thing you don’t do – cut funding.

          • Rob

            It’s not a consensus and you know it. Can you cite any empirical evidence that supports your assertion? You call Bush II a joke and have the audacity to imply that the present POTUS is better. BTW, name calling is petty and an immature approach to true debate of ideas. For you to say it has “it’s uses” is simply ridiculous.

          • Sajwanih

            http://www.pewglobal.org/2008/12/18/global-public-opinion-in-the-bush-years-2001-2008/

            Also, for some personal evidence that is anecdotal in a way, but, as you’ll see, holds some validity, I myself lived overseas for a period of about 8 years (2002 to 2010), in Dubai UAE. Not one person I met there didn’t have something negative to say about Bush and America for his entire term. This included every member of my high school there, an international school (with more nationalities represented in my very classroom than most universities have at all) and many teachers. This also includes major business leaders there with whom I was acquainted being that my family is also quite prominent in the business world there.

            As for name calling in debate, I agree, it has no place in true debate of ideas as you say. If you’re referring to the comments I received below, however, then those were not an attempt at debate of ideas in the first place. It was simply some sad attempt to name call me, to which I responded in kind. This is where its uses lie.

            As for the current president, his economic policies have been, thus far, enough to drag us back from an economic slump not seen since the Great Depression. We’re even seeing enough growth for the Fed to begin tapering. We’re also seeing policies that are attempting to fix the GAPING income inequalities in the US including increasing taxes for wealthy individuals who have thus far managed to evade their fair dues and have stagnated the productivity of our economy. Economics will back me up in saying that taxing the rich to a higher degree than the poor makes sense based on the concept of declining marginal utility, as well in that poverty is a trap. There’s also recent evidence that a social safety net encourages more risk-taking, and as you should know, the flip side of this is more societal return. In line with this we’re seeing an attempt at healthcare reform (or as much of one as we can see without being muted by misguided economics once again, mostly on the side of the GOP). We’re seeing more open support of STEM field education and undeniable scientific evidence regarding the deleterious effects of climate change. Want me to go on? I can go into more depth on any one of these.

    • Shirley Tyner Ramos

      I am not sure I want to live in your real world…as there are the next leaders and entrepreneurs that are sitting in the very schools that you feel are so inaccessible. The cost of computers and Wi-Fi are comparable to the purchase of the traditional textbooks and I am hoping that teachers are looking at their students and understanding their needs as opposed to talking at them all day. There is a wonderful world that is the lives that these children will really live…and providing a paper and a pencil and ignoring what is really making things tick is limiting their possibilities…and btw…aren’t you reading online and commenting to a blog…hmmmm… sounds like part of your real world!

      • John DeMartin

        I agree. The 14 recommendations listed here may not be “quick fixes” but that doesn’t diminish their essential nature. If you can’t agree that these are (among) the changes that need to be made then progress will be slow, very slow. Or else, you’ll be caught up in the next wave—it is coming, it will come—and swept right out the door!

      • PN8891

        It is! It’s also another part of his real world (speaking from experience as the son–and former attendee–of a public high school that is like Mr. Reid’s, only moreso) that schools are funded on a per-student basis. Small schools get “extra money” in one way or another (not sure how it works in VA–I’m from OR) because they can have outlandishly-low student counts (by the standards of larger municipalities). For example, the high school I attended for part of my educational years had only 65 students in it–counting grades 7-12!

        I think that sometimes people from larger schools don’t realize the very different set of advantages and disadvantages faced by small schools. They see the disadvantages (far from the services provided by the Educational Services District, no money for things like wi-fi and cafeteria–everyone had to bring sack lunches at my high school as there was no caf–and teachers that teach more than one subject, rather than specializing in just one), but cannot fully appreciate the advantages that can only be felt by those who have lived in the community and actually had the experience of going to the school.

        We had such a small student-to-faculty ratio that every teacher knew every student personally, and understood what their strengths and struggles were, and could provide individualized help to each student (even though they couldn’t provide an individualized program of classes, as there weren’t enough teachers to really put Suggestion 12 on this list into action).

        One reality of small schools that teachers have to deal with is that they’re absolutely hog-wild about their sports programs. I don’t just mean the students, but also their families (frequently, in a small-town culture, including extended families who live locally), and the community at large. Because 80% of the students participate in sports at a school that is small enough for everyone to make the team, the group of students that make up the sports teams is representative of the student body as a whole. Anyone not on the team is a huge fan, because the athletes are their friends (and frequently siblings and cousins). The after-school video-editing program would be a great idea in a school where not everyone’s on the team, but out here no student would have time for that, with practices and all–same with any band program!

      • PN8891

        By the way, if the cost of wi-fi is too much, and the cost of traditional textbooks is as well…what does that say about the cost of traditional textbooks?

        You know that list of student names in the front of a textbook that shows to whom it has been issued each school year? When I was in Spanish class (at my small school that you’ll read about in my other comment, if you haven’t already), I found the names of people whom I knew–because their children were friends of my siblings! Small schools don’t buy the “wi-fi is affordable because we get textbooks and they’re just as cheap” argument–they don’t get textbooks every year, either! Plus, when you’re in a small, rural, low-income community, many kids don’t have devices to use wi-fi anyway–a number don’t even have internet in their homes (or if they do, it’s dial-up)!

    • Tired of Black Helicopters

      There are federal E-rate refunds that reimburse up to 90% for tech communication infrastructure for title 1 schools. Title 1 schools are our poor schools with high free and reduced lunch rates based on parent/guardian income. Get yourself a good consultant because the process is complicated. We found our district was leaving $3 million on the table every year…$30 million over the last 10 years. We found that we can’t afford not to have wi-fi, bandwith and digital learning. The traditional way is far more expensive.

    • Shannon Doak

      This is a problem with a society that spends so much on war and entertainment, rather than putting more towards education. A society that thinks “those who can’t, teach.” Is a society that will never truly value education. To improve society the people that make up that society need to be educated. It is too bad that most societies don’t value education as much as developing killing devices, playing games, or being entertained.

  • marknewt

    I would add: A vibrant and free student-run media program producing and sharing important stories.

  • cindy

    Why even leave to go to the school house? This can all be done at home in many towns. Thanks. This will save many districts lots of money as they can now let all the teachers go, and students can stay home and teach themselves, or through a collaborative online course.

    • Kiki Fogg

      A) You say that as though that approach would work best for ALL students, & that NONE of them would see greater benefits from the classroom experience. But surely you wouldn’t suggest that every student learns best the same way when every study since forever has said otherwise, right?
      B) Science labs. Musical instruments. Theatre equipment. All difficult, costly, redundant, & (in the case of certain science equipment) unsafe if done individually across-the-board.

      • cindy

        We all have to decide what the purpose of a school is. There are some core competencies that students need, and it is fantasy to believe students can simply progress along as the spirit moves them; they need guidance. As a former teacher, I see what this is….this is the “next” thing…the classroom of the future…all things are possible, open classrooms, blah blah blah.

        At the end of the day, we do have had working models that produced competent children. These days, someone comes up with a new idea and WE ALL have to do it (i.e. common core, 1-1 devices, etc.)

        The bottom line is communities, parents, & teachers need local control to do what fits their community to ensure their students graduate knowing how to read and write, and be confident in their ability to adapt to our ever-changing world.

        • Kiki Fogg

          Now THAT we can agree on. :)

          • cindy

            I was being a little sarcastic in the first post – only because whatever new thing that comes out, we have (at least in our town) administrators who use it to defend spending more money when it simply is not necessary. We had high performing schools well before our budget jumped significantly to do what has been imposed on us in the name of ed reform. And IMO, technology is a bottomless pit, especially in a town where kids have multiple devices. True reform in our town would be to teach without a device. Venting a little.

        • Emma

          While I entirely agree that teachers’ first priority should be the core competencies that have always been taught (and that skilled teachers should be guiding those processes), we also need to accept that WE also have to adapt to a world in which technology is evolving faster than ever before. If we choose to ban these things from the classroom, we will eventually make ourselves obsolete. We must keep up with the rate of change and find ways to incorporate at least SOME of these things into our curricula. I feel for children whose education is marred by a misguided belief that the old ways are the only ways.

          • cindy

            I have seen parents and districts do backflips to buy SMART boards, which are very cool, but they did not revolutionize education. Now we are going the other way, to personalized, one-to-one, device fed learning, making those big bulky class-led discussion boards obsolete.

            Haven’t we learned already that these are good things, but the fundamental instruction will not change? Kids need essentials, and exposure to a variety of things, so they can build the future next great thing. We all know that.

    • Mike Reid

      Cindy, this is a possibility for some yes. But for many students, socialization skills are essential, thus, the school house will be needed until that is overcome. Also, combining our money to meet the needs of the greater good (science labs, PE equipment, music, the arts, etc.) is important for those seeking higher learning in those areas. I’m a teacher, and I don’t have a high powered telescope to teach astronomy. I don’t have the money to buy a stage to allow my children to put on professional looking plays. Etc. etc. etc. As a teacher and former school board member, I have realized what it means to finally step outside of my box when it comes to new ideas. When you find something that works for you, go with it! But don’t discount anything new when it comes along until you try it. I find that somethings don’t work for me, but at least I tried to see if it worked. Meanwhile, I do agree with your statement about teachers being let go. With greater globalization and use of technology, some teachers are finding it hard to find jobs. Years ago teachers could have 60 kids in a class. Times have changed and 30 in a class is considered too many, thus we are able to hire more teachers. But times are changing again, and so the education field has to evolve to meet those needs. Unfortunately, for some, it may be a loss of a job (been there! done that!).

      • Tamara Winfrey

        Socialization is the code word they use to get parents to send their children into bully pits.

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  • http://phantomminuet.blogspot.com/ MinAgain

    Good luck getting taxpayers and state and local legislatures to pony up the tax dollars for these reforms, especially in the South, where we have teachers who still spend their own money to buy supplies for students.

    BTW, if parents made their teenagers go to bed at a decent hour, 8 am would still work just fine at school starting time.

    • Bonzi77

      Right. I suspect that if you started school at 9, teenagers would still be half asleep at 9. That’s the way I was as a teenager.

      • Elizabeth Christophy

        I agree. While I love a lot about this article, I just can’t agree with starting school later. The students aren’t awake in the morning because they stay up late the night before. Why are they staying up late? Because they have practice, or games or dance or…. Where do those things go when school starts later? They either go later, making the students get to bed even later or they get rescheduled for all this new time before school – neither of which gets the students any more sleep.

        • Nathaniel Ross

          Sorry, but that’s not how it works. The human body, especially that of a teenager, is not designed to have a 9pm-to-5am sleep schedule. Melatonin (the hormone that causes drowsiness) isn’t activated in adolescents until much later than in adults, meaning that teenagers don’t feel tired that early; even if they forced themselves to go to bed then, they wouldn’t be as well-rested. This is not even to mention the difficulty in waking up an hour before sunrise with no natural light. From my personal experience (and I know this isn’t just me), sleeping from midnight to 8am on a weekend leaves me much more refreshed than sleeping 9pm to 5am on a school night. Circadian rhythms are a real thing, no matter how many people like to deny it. Starting school later would be a godsend for highschoolers.

          • http://phantomminuet.blogspot.com/ MinAgain

            And every teenager is not exactly the same as every other teenager. If it’s all about maximizing student learning based on how late kids want to sleep, you might as well let kids show up to school whenever they get around to waking up.

          • Elizabeth Christophy

            Thank you, I was just about to say this. You, Nathaniel, may rather sleep from midnight to 8 but I wouldn’t. Everyone is different. And no one has addressed my question of logistics for all the extra-curricular activities that are now filling the students after school time. My other point is that school should be training people for the real world. Are the students going to be able to say to their boss someday, “Sorry, I can’t work those hours. My circadian rhythms necessitate a different start and stop time.”?

          • Francie

            I fully agree as I’ve seen this with my oldest son who’s almost 14.

          • Robert Houghton

            Ingvi, What a wonderful vision. Without them we are lost.

            1. See map of 1:1 computing in state of N.C. (“the south”). It may be slow, but we are working thru the challenges. Many more will begin making the leap this next fall.

            http://ecrop.blogspot.com/2013/12/mapping-11-computing-in-north-carolina.html

            2. National U.S. effort at getting to first base is being tracked here and it is immense yet happening in pockets everywhere,

            http://www.one-to-oneinstitute.org, not quite at tipping point but closing.

            3. The Web provides further incentive to shift the decisional power in the learning event and you are right about the need to shift it.

            http://ecrop.blogspot.com/2014/03/lms-vs-net-decision-time-on-budgeting.html

            4. The new economy favors those who favor information, and that includes educators. How do we help our conservative citizens see that the economy has a new hero, one with infinite wealth given away freely, if we would only teach the entrepreneurial skills to reach for it?

            http://ecrop.blogspot.com/2014/03/finance-builds-schools-starve-stupid.html

            Let’s keep on pushing towards your vision.

            twitter.com/rshoughton

          • Wagnercoliveira

            Francie, I live at Brazil and I am a technicial course teacher. The students starts at 7 am to 5 pm. And they don’t complain of excess works in school. Otherwise, they like.

      • Raichu

        Wrong. Human sleep cycles are heavily influenced by the solar cycle.

      • litprof

        Wrong. A school system in Minnesota switch the starting time for its middle school and high school kids. The SAT scores of the high school kids went up immediately.

        As noted above, kids in their middle to late teens are biologically programmed to stay up later and get up later. This idea that they are lazy or willfully tiring themselves out by staying up late is pure ignorance.

        • tess rivers

          our schools (UK) start at 9. Can’t see much difference, the kids just want to start at 10.

    • Tired of Black Helicopters

      I’m in the south, the deep south, and we are the first school system in the country to have 100% of our students in digital 1:1 learning. Every student K-12 has a digital device. Younger children have classroom devices and older children (3rd – 12th) have laptops they take home. Curriculum is accessed digitally. Our wealthy neighborhoods already had home wi-fi, our poorer neighborhoods have it or are getting it through grants and a minimal personal contribution for each home. We all know that the things we pay for are the things we value, so everyone contributes what they can. Until wifi is completely available outside the school, students save their chapters and homework assignments on their hard drive for afterschool work. It has been a stretching experience, and in year two we have just about worked out most of the bugs. Granted, there is more to do, but we have come a long way. The cost of our digital conversion, to include a 3 year lease on laptops was the exact same as the annual cost in those 3 years to replace our text books on a 7 year schedule. We still have textbooks for AP classes that are not yet digital, and a classroom set for those rare occassions when the power is out and our AWESOME teachers continue to move forward. Again, this is all in the south; the DEEP south. Sterotyping southerners or northerners or rich or poor is a narrow minded knee jerk reaction. Education is supposed to remove sterotypes, not promote them. Point 15 should be moving past the cliche.

      • J Lew

        How dare you go against the narrative.
        Repeat after me: The South is just a bunch of rednecks who don’t care about education. The South is just a bunch of rednecks who don’t care about education.The South is just a bunch of rednecks who don’t care about education.
        That should have you back in the right mindset

    • Robin Sommer

      When parents get home from work between 5-7pm, prepare a nutrit
      ous meal, and then participate in extra-curriuclar activities including sporting events and exercise, then assist with homework…it is impossible to get them to bed at a decent hour!

    • Lorraine Armstrong

      Starting High School at an appropriate hour for the teen sleep cycle will never fly. We tried it here and the parents were apoplectic.

      Too many of them have to depend on the teens to run the family while they are at work. The teens are needed to pick up younger siblings from school, feed them, and ensure that homework is done.

      The later starting time also plays havoc with after school extra-curricula activities.

      Lastly, it prevents the teens from working enough hours to help support the family.

      I don’t agree that these things should be a teenager’s responsibility, but that is the reality of the world we live in.

    • Monty Miller

      My Grandson goes to school from 7 to 1, Absolutely asinine. It is easier and more likely to get in trouble from 1-6 when the parents get home than from 7-10 in the morning. He should go from 10-5.

  • Paul Krumrie

    If cell phones would be used like you described, it would be learning at the highest level. Unfortunately, reality strikes. Students today are very interested what else is happening and it is so easy to find out — not necessaily educational. Distraction from reality is at an all-time high. The use of technology many times adds to that delimma. I had a presenter at a tech seminar once say, “The cell phone brings us all together.” WHAT?? Talk about a device that separates us from everyone around, the cell phone is that device.

    I see all of these devices adding to education, but teacher education must be constant (If districts are willing to pay). But then again, you don’t need a computer to fill in a bubble sheet.

    • John DeMartin

      Students aren’t more interested in their cell phones when what is happening at school, in the classroom, what’s being asked of them, what they’re being asked to imagine, question and contribute, is interesting, enjoyable, engaging, authentic, worthwhile, validating, important . . . . Ever been bored out of your skull in a meeting? What’s the first thing you do? You reach for your smartphone. “Calgon, take me away!” Students (cell phones) aren’t the problem. At least, don’t jump to that conclusion so easily. Look in the mirror, assess your own school culture and teaching practice, figure out where YOU’RE going wrong, and then proceed. Smacks of the fundamental attribution error (Google it as I did last weekend). It’s always someone else’s (read: “the students’”, or “cell phones” or . . . .)

      • litprof

        You’re underestimating the lure of technology and the power of the illusion of multi-tasking. I teach a college course in which all the sections (taught by different professors) meet once a week to attend a presentation by a guest speaker. The presentations are mostly excellent — engaging, often with a multi-media component, interactive (not just a lecture).

        Yet sitting near the back, I see students with lap-tops that have four windows open: one to take notes, a browser, an online game, and an instant messaging window. And they’ve got all those open before the presenter has even begun.

        Don’t talk to me about being “boring.” The operative phrase is “to take an interest” — active verb. Yes, we all find some meetings boring, but no serious learning environment can compete with “Clash of Clans” in terms of stimuli and instant gratification.

        • John DeMartin

          Thank you for the lecture. You responded only to the portions of my reply that pushed your buttons. You ignored most of it. Really, there’s no such thing as boring? You say the/your presentations are engaging and interactive yet students are disengaged. Perhaps we define “engaging and interactive” differently. I work with elementary students and can attest (I won’t lecture you about what you’ve underestimated, though) that not everyone is looking for (over) stimulation and instant gratification, not 24/7 anyway. Our young students willingly trade their recess time (the only time in the schedule this particular year) for the chance, just yesterday, to learn how to hammer a nail. I sense a state of affairs among even this young generation (the one that is so enamored of their digital devices) in which students feel “apped out.” Many/most gladly put down their iPads to learn to code in a very analog way (plastic cups), or skip another game of soccer or football to work with their hands.

          • litprof

            Sorry if you perceived it as a lecture. I was sharing my observations, which I thought was the point.

            I said *some students* are disengaged, and the ones who are generally are the ones who have their laptops open. When sixty students burst out laughing because a presenter made a good point in a funny way, and the twenty who don’t are staring at computer screens and then look up with a confused expression of “Hey, what just happened? Why did people laugh?” I think it’s fair to suggest the technology is not helping them learn.

            Your experience with elementary students sounds encouraging. And that kind of hands-on learning with materials is wonderfully engaging. My wife is a Montessori teacher, so I know that well.

            But while materials are great in early education for teaching concepts, the higher up you go, the more students need to be able to be engaged by ideas and words as well.

          • John DeMartin

            I think we’re speaking the same language. I understand that college students aren’t elementary students. I worry about the “benefits” of technology that seem to drive us further and further apart. That’s the idea of “apped out.” I’m reading a book titled “Together Alone” that investigates this phenomenon/trend. It’s a shame, really, that Twitter Facebook blogs and the like have taken on such importance that the finer things (including ideas, knowledge, and wonderful experiences of all sorts) get shorter and shorter shrift.

  • Kenneth Weene

    These are excellent points, but there is one lacking — the process of administration using a top-down model. Until schools allow the kind of spirited discussion and debate that engages students, teachers, workers, and administrators, there will not be real education. Often a discussion of what is to be done teaches more than the actual doing.

  • kszczytko

    You may many great points and provide lots of food for thought. Unfortunately until education dollars and job security stops being tied to standardized testing, as it is here in the US, innovation and risks cannot happen.

    • http://about.me/ingvihrannar Ingvi Hrannar

      Thanks for that but sad to hear about innovation and risk not having a place.

  • Steve Meador

    Thinking outside of the box and going away from the use of technology in one area…Why can’t the students have a period (in place of PE) where they would work in the school “farm” growing organic fruits and vegetables, raising organic chickens and producing organic eggs. While the output would not feed the entire school (Or maybe it would???) this would at least present to the students a real life activity that benefits their lives, feeds them “greener” with better products, and gives them the exercise that too many of them miss in their lives. There would be periods of time when they would need to bring “Dirty” cloths, but after the intital prep work, hoeing and watering could be done and still keep them able to continue back to class.

    • Kate

      Google the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program. I’ve worked in an Australian school that has this program and thought it was excellent. Kids grow fruit and veg amd look after chickens, then cook using produce they’ve grown.

  • Caroline Brewer

    I would like to add learning disabilities. It we truly believed all children can learn, then there would be no children labeled with learning disabilities. I have had the distinct pleasure and privilege of working with children labeled LD and in every case I have seen them learn, learn quickly, and impressively. Here’s to no more LD in our 21st century schools!

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  • danderson1

    As a parent of four who also happens to teach, I agree with most of your list. Our district starts high school students the latest (8:45), based on research that found it was beneficial to students. It has been a very successful change. As for the technological advances you mention: I would love, in my dreams, to have access to the type of technology you espouse. Unfortunately, in the south (NC), our elementary school students do not have regular, consistent access to technology while at school. Many of our students who live in poverty do not have access at all. Our state government has cut our budgets so drastically, that our allotment for texts (either physical or e-texts) is around 12 dollars per student per year, so I don’t imagine there will be any money for increasing access to technology (particularly since we have been teaching without a raise for 6 years….)

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  • ncmathsadist

    Schools operate in a nineteenth century model of an industrial revolution sock factory. They are hierarchical organizations as other organizations have flattened. They are autocratic and highly centralized, as other organizations have delegated and moved decisions down the chain to their points of implementation. Our model for schools is outdated 150 years. Isn’t this obvious to all but the dead?

  • Francie Aylward-Allen

    Good article. But why can’t people hear the difference in the words then and than-they are not interchangeable and that just irritates me in an article about 21st century schools.

  • HS Senior

    Sorry, I really have to disagree with some things in this article. I am a senior in high school right now and most of the things that have been listed continue to be used at our school. I also think that a few are for good reason such as the prohibition of Facebook. Yes, FB maybe a great way for students to discuss topics with each other in class pages but it gets very messy when you involve parents and teachers. It is not a problem of trying to check off the boxes, but finding out what works. At our school, students use the library on a regular basis and have updated computers for public use. It is incredibly distracting for teenagers to be outside of a classroom, we would never get work done. I don’t think I would have as much respect for my teachers if they tweeted on a normal basis. Personally, I like going to school early, if I had to stay at school until 5 pm, it would kill me. Honestly, you have to be in the moment to really understand how kids feel about school.

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  • Neil Ruddy

    Haiku: “Most schools are still set – up like the factories they – were once meant to serve”

  • DoopTastic

    I’m interested in the Personalized Professional Development article…is it in English anywhere? :-)

  • litprof

    The only country I know of that uses standardized testing productively is Finland. Tests are anonymous. They are used to judge schools, not individual students. Schools that perform poorly (“poorly” in Finland meaning better than most American schools) get *extra* help, including funding, to correct the problem, rather than being punished.

    Some of the principles here sound very Montessori (for example, “Children should put the food on their own plate, clean up after themselves and even do the dishes. Not because it saves the school money on workforce but because it is a part of growing up and learning about responsibility.”) My wife is a Montessori teacher at the elementary level, so I recognize some of these ideas.

    But I think the weakness of the article is an uncritical enthusiasm for technology based an an “instrumentalist” model, meaning that technology is a tool that helps us do things better. An “essentialist” model suggests that the tools we use alter our perception of what can be doing. I’m fine with schools having Twitter accounts and students creating their posters and such for events. But the distraction factor involved in allowing students to constantly access their phones and tablets and the illusion of multi-tasking (which does not exist — it’s just rapid task-switching, with a dramatic loss in ability at the tasks) are major problems.

    Also, the vision of a library presented here — “A 21st century library should be at the heart of the school and a place where both students and staff can come in to relax, read, get advice, access powerful devices, edit videos, music, print in 3D and learn how to code to name a few” — is deeply problematic. A library *should* be quiet, and given how immersed the writer appears to be in technology, I’m surprised he or she doesn’t realize that they can “access powerful devices, edit videos” and so on anywhere. If computer rooms are a thing of the past, how much sense does it make to sell off books — books that haven’t been digitized and may never be, which is what is happening now as miles of shelf-length disappear from libraries every year — in order to create access points that students don’t need? When a kid with a smart-phone and a relatively inexpensive computer can film a movie anywhere and edit it while at home, or on the bus, or at a Starbucks, what makes the library such a huge draw?

  • clayton burley

    i hear from a lot of you that just because its expensive we shouldnt do it. sounds like the rich conservatives called republicans that want people to stay stupid so you can stay stupid and serve the money boys for substandard wages. this is a great article, and i am a seventy year old man.

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  • HazzyrdousOne

    Wonderful…another coddle the children and embrace their individuality concept that forgets the fact that it DOES NOT WORK. Look at the kids that are coming out of these “enlightened” enviroments you praise. They are disobedient, disrespectful, entitled Obamanites who think that everything should be given to them and that average performance should be celebrated. We are falling behind in the world not because were too hard on our children, but because were letting them get by with mediocrity. Oh boo hoo..you have to be at school at 8am…TOUGH! This kindler, gentler concept is making yet another morally worthless generation of children. You want to control a nation…subjegate and impoverish its people..make it easier to control them.

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  • eco-centric

    he approach that that Mr. Hrannar is promoting is not new at all–it is just more business as usual–continuing on with the worldview that humans are more important and separate from natural systems or nonhuman beings. This blog has a couple good ideas, but even those I like are framed in a way that feels misguided to me.

    It is as though this blogger (a self described elementary school teacher and entreprenuer in Iceland) is living in a world with blinders on. What I feel most worked up about, is that I know Hrannar’s perspective is not unique. In his piece about what should and shouldn’t be part of 21st century schools, there is no mention of how climate change, peak oil, habitat destruction, species extinction, potential economic meltdown, poverty inequality, or any of the other imminent challenges that we are facing are going to affect our lives in the upcoming years.

    A majority of the ideas that he speaks of are extremely technologically focused–prompting another commenter (a friend of my friend’s) to call it “techno-fetishism”. I’m not against technology in the classroom, but when they emphasize using the internet over bring the students into the actual local community or the community into the classroom, they are missing out on cultivating relationships, finding ways to make their lessons real-world applicable, as well as strengthening much needed social and emotional intelligences that cannot be done online. While the use of “technology as teacher” was mentioned several times, there was no call for taking kids out into nature. When I read this blog, that science fiction image of people with computers attached to their arms comes to mind.

    Additionally, the lack of acknowledgement of the “invisible” social and environmental consequences (in production, process, and waste disposal) of technology in the 21st century (let alone a call to examine and act upon other social justice issues)–almost makes this article completely ignorable.

    I would have written the blog off completely if Hrannar hadn’t mentioned school gardens and healthier school lunches. Kudos, buddy. However, it doesn’t mention why, nor any of the societal issues that connect to food systems.

    I did also appreciate the idea of differentiating learning groups other than by age and giving more options for unique professional development for teachers. I think they are right about the need for teachers to share what they are doing, but that could very much be in person and doesn’t need to be an extra forced thing on top of leading such busy lives.

    I TOTALLY agree with #14 and his final paragraphs! Failing schools need help, but standardized tests are doing so much more harm than good, effecting teaching, learning, and well-being year round! There are much more effective ways to support schools that are struggling. And we DO need to fight for the schools that we want

    I can tell this blogger really cares about students and schools. I know there is a lot of potential for profound learning to occur via technology, but I can’t help but remind him that we live on a finite planet with finite resources. If one of his points was that computers made out of scandalously mined minerals would be obsolete and computers made out of humanure would take their place, then great! That makes sense–sort of?! But to disregard the context of our perilous situation seems ignorant at best.

  • eco-centric

    The approach that that Mr. Hrannar is promoting is not new at all–it is just more business as usual–continuing on with the worldview that humans are more important and separate from natural systems or nonhuman beings. This blog has a couple good ideas, but even those I like are framed in a way that feels misguided to me.

    It is as though this blogger (a self described elementary school teacher and entreprenuer in Iceland) is living in a world with blinders on. What I feel most worked up about, is that I know Hrannar’s perspective is not unique. In his piece about what should and shouldn’t be part of 21st century schools, there is no mention of how climate change, peak oil, habitat destruction, species extinction, potential economic meltdown, poverty inequality, or any of the other imminent challenges that we are facing are going to affect our lives in the upcoming years.

    A majority of the ideas that he speaks of are extremely technologically focused–prompting another commenter (a friend of my friend’s) to call it “techno-fetishism”. I’m not against technology in the classroom, but when they emphasize using the internet over bring the students into the actual local community or the community into the classroom, they are missing out on cultivating relationships, finding ways to make their lessons real-world applicable, as well as strengthening much needed social and emotional intelligences that cannot be done online. While the use of “technology as teacher” was mentioned several times, there was no call for taking kids out into nature. When I read this blog, that science fiction image of people with computers attached to their arms comes to mind.

    Additionally, the lack of acknowledgement of the “invisible” social and environmental consequences (in production, process, and waste disposal) of technology in the 21st century (let alone a call to examine and act upon other social justice issues)–almost makes this article completely ignorable.

    I would have written the blog off completely if Hrannar hadn’t mentioned school gardens and healthier school lunches. Kudos, buddy. However, it doesn’t mention why, nor any of the societal issues that connect to food systems.

    I did also appreciate the idea of differentiating learning groups other than by age and giving more options for unique professional development for teachers. I think they are right about the need for teachers to share what they are doing, but that could very much be in person and doesn’t need to be an extra forced thing on top of leading such busy lives.

    I hear your friend, Lizzi’s points [this was posted after the comments below] about needing accountability in schools that are failing kids, but I feel that standardized tests are doing so much more harm than good and are more of a symptom of a problem than getting at the root. There are much more effective ways to support schools that are struggling.

    I can tell this blogger really cares about students and schools. I know there is a lot of potential for profound learning to occur via technology, but I can’t help but remind him that we live on a finite planet with finite resources. If one of his points was that computers made out of scandalously mined minerals would be obsolete and computers made out of humanure would take their place, then great! That makes sense–sort of. But to disregard the context of our perilous situation seems ignorant at best.

  • Nicholas Sullivan

    I disagree with the “starting later” part. The thing you are forgetting is all of the after school activities and sports. If those sports now start an hour plus later, that is a huge problem. Many already don’t end until very late at night, that just makes it worse.

  • Chris Horvat

    This entire article is obsolete and written by someone who is completely out of touch with how the education system works. Wi-Fi networks, desktops, laptops and tablets are expensive to purchase. And while, yes some of that cost can be mitigated by replacing traditional textbooks with these tools there is the added and very high cost of maintaining these networks and devices once they are purchased. More and more often the local taxpayer is reluctant to fund these items. Couple that with cuts in state and federal funding for schools and guess what? All the I-pads in the world can’t change basic arithmetic. They are a frivolous and unnecessary expense that any good teacher will tell you are not NEEDED in the classroom.

  • World Travel Family

    Wonderful post! One of the best things to happen to me recently was a teacher contacting me, from Dubai, to tell me she was using my family travel blog to teach her class. Now that’s the sort of teacher I’d like for my kids!

  • William Neal

    And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the bullshit Tu/Thur or MWF only avail class schedule.

  • andychrist

    how much do the kids get paid for making the posters?

  • Becca

    I’m a high school student, and my school (and every school I’ve been to) has most of these “obsolete” things. More research needs to be done before people write articles like these. And if you are going to write these things, please do not use hyperboles and act like you are speaking for the majority/all of schools.

  • paula

    I don’t agree that this is fantasy. I feel that these are achievable goals and even more importantly they are essential if we want to achieve true development. More important than the specificity of what has been said, is the overarching concept that the next generation needs to explore whatever technology available to them, be taught not to limit their capacity to achieve and to be mindful of the true value of good health.

  • Clifford Nickerson

    Using keying and screens is horrible for the learning process. Using a touch-screen phone actually prevents you from remembering what you look up on it. Recall of knowledge read from a physical page is better. Tradition can’t be justified for its own sake, but using technology where it does harm can’t be justified, either.

    • Lorraine Armstrong

      That depends on the type of learner you are. I am a visual and tactile learner, so this would work for me.

      • Clifford Nickerson

        I believe that tactile and visual learners learn better from physically writing than using screen or keyboards. I haven’t read a publication that specifically gave results only for those learners, but in the published studies that exist today, learning is better across the board when you don’t allow keyboards, recorders, cameras, and touch screens. I’ve only got 13 years of classroom experience, but in that time, I’ve
        never met a single student that learned better using his phone as a
        notebook and dictionary than others that used pen and paper. This may be because strong students don’t use those methods. In a general sense, within the same teaching
        method, the trend of students that want to take pictures of the board
        instead of writing it down has weekend class quality. I’d go so far as to say that students learn better when they see the teacher write on the board than when there’s a polished power point presentation, even if they don’t take notes.

  • Misterpolen

    What about monitoring the progress of a student throughout the process. Why do we have to wait until we are about to release a student from the confines of academia into the wide world of reality to cut this virtual hole in the side of his/her head and administer this catch all, expose all, solve all ostensibly see just how much knowledge has been stored and how much is retrievable? Is it possible to have a perpetual, continuous chain of monitoring which would insure that students evaluation would be available to the next level they enter where it could be again evaluated and if necessary find the cause(s) of failure(s) to learn? Perhaps the good designer of these 14 items should include another one pertaining to adequate staff having precedent over inflated administration. It takes people to teach in the manner outlined. Willingness, hope, vision and motivation are not enough. It takes personnel. To avoid that is a waste of those 14 precepts, and a waste of a student’s mind.

  • Misterpolen

    Why were my comments deleted?

  • Joey

    This article calls “computer rooms” obsolete, yet I believe that the argument presented here more supports the idea that “computer class” is obsolete. I disagree with this. Typing is the single most useful skill I learned in middle school. I think students should take a typing class at least once in their life, because then they will be able to use technology efficiently in their other classes, as this article suggests.

  • jaysamios

    Smart points here, however I wish you had gotten a proofreader. I see some sloppy mistakes which is a bummer, because it only takes away from an otherwise intelligent argument.

    • http://about.me/ingvihrannar Ingvi Hrannar

      Thanks. Yeah it’s written originally in Icelandic and I translated it quickly. I would really appreciate your input and things I can fix :)

  • Panatella

    Sometimes changes have to be made. In my opinion, too much tech integration is not a good thing. Kids are losing valuable skills (i.e. reading, writing, social skills) that are vital to being successful in school, college, and a job. Relying too much on technology trains tehbrain into being reactive and responsive. Example, kids want to look up answers using either google or Scire as oppsed to locating information in a book. Second, phones in the classroom are by far the the single biggest distraction (playing games, texting, listening to music, etc.). I can’t tell you how many times I have to redirect students from their phone or I-pod. They are not yet mature enough or disciplined enough to be responsible with technology.

  • Brent

    Students also think homework is obsolete and reading from a book. Culturally things are always changing, but we shouldn’t always make them obselete. 10 years from now all these things will be obselete. this is BUNK!!!

  • Laura327
  • Not impressed

    The reality is that this article is a pipe dream in my opinion. First, to have everything so technology driven is not good for the students or the teacher. What happens when the tech goes out, or you get a substitute teacher who doesn’t know how to your system, or heaven forbid no one knows how to do real work anymore because everything got automated ten years ago. Sometimes as a teacher it is necessary to ban things like phones or tablets because they are a distraction to the student who has it and the students around him/her. When I was in grad school they had great access to technology – and while the professor was lecturing people would be on Facebook, surfing the web, house hunting, and a myraid of other things all completely outside of the focus of the class. The schools I have taught in have been ten times worse!
    It is great to have access to technology and use it within reason to enhance education – but some of the things you listed as obsolete are still very relevant in schools today!!!

  • csillagdora

    The problame is not just the money but the obsolete people who lead the countries, the schools. As a hungarian singer, Ákos (Akosh) says in his song: “But the Devil inside resize a silly head”. Until the leader generations don’t change, till either the system won’t.. and it is a circle. But there are always good examples: a (hungarian) teacher gave for the students an interesting homework: make facebook page of famous poets and writers – pictures, CV, biography and a possible conversation among them on fb- and the students were so motivated, they were very creative, they created very good fb pages and they liked sharing pics, poems and chatting with each other alias the poets could do in the past if they had fb. SO, never give up the change! DO IT YOURSELF!! :)

  • Watts

    the isolation and no phone policy is still important simply because kids are easily distracted. You really think they’ll pay attention to the history of Angola when they can screw around on facebook? And the thing about parents and other teachers casually coming in and out is a great recipe for chaos. Can’t wait to hear about the parents with nothing else better to do come in and tell you how to run your class.

  • jrHamish

    All excellent points and worthy of our consideration as educators. For those arguing against the use of smartphones or tablets in classrooms, you’re missing the point. Students looking on facebook or texting one another is no different than students passing notes or drawing pictures when we were in school. If teachers set clear expectations and provide proper supervision, you then place the responsibility on the students to comply otherwise they lose the privilege. The fact of the matter is this generation is connected to technology. If we force them to “power down” whenever they enter our schools we are denying them the ability to learn at their best. Using books and encylopedias to look up information is about as relevant as using an abacus to do math.
    Thank you to the author for providing great information to those of us willing to prepare students for THEIR future rather than forcing them to live in OUR past.

    • Barbara Fuentes

      I think students should learn to unplug, on principle. Far too many people spend their entire day on a screen ignoring the people in the same room.
      I’ve also seen gossip spread faster and hotter with the use of cell phones, tearing a girl down before she even gets to school that day. It’s not the same as passing notes, which I could stop from happening in my classroom.
      This writer strikes me as painfully naive and inexperienced. I loved my SmartBoard–wish I still had it–and think electronic dictionaries are great tools. So much of the rest of this ignores the realities at schools.

  • klk

    # 8—This is always the stupidest argument. Starting later means ending later which means all athletic practices and other activities start later so kids get out of those later and have less evening time at home for homework and family time. A fallacy that keeps being perpetuated. Teens adapt to what they need for sleep..we all do.

  • Christy Killeen

    Hi I am an Australian teacher and I would just like to say that in regards to points 1, 2,4 &6 some people have no real understanding about what teachers have to deal with on a daily basis. Open classrooms to parents then every Tom Dick and Harry believe that they can judge to quality and style of teaching that goes on in the classroom, by the way most schools do allow teachers to visit classroom to learn and team teach. I firmly believe that phones (and tablets to a degree) should be banned in schools I would go asfar as saying put cell service blockers in all schools. Phones distract the students from the eessential learning of the classroom, kids can not be trusted to focus when they have ready access to Facebook etc. Computer rooms are necessary because not every student has their own laptop (not everyone is rich) and even if they do not all kids will bring them every day, students are great at avoiding work. As for teachers blogging etc when was the last time you taught in a school full time? Most teachers spend so much time compiling lessons, marking assignments, doing reports, helping with extracurricular activities and trying to have a life outside of school that they are to tired to do extra stuff. The majority of teachers do share their work and lessons with others they just don’t have the time to do it globally all the time. What most people, administrators and government bodies seem to forget is that teachers are only human, there is no super ability in being a teacher most just want to make a difference in children’s lives by providing a quality education within the limits of human endurance, social structures and financial boundaries. Anyone saying teachers can do more have not been in a PUBLIC school within the last 50 years.

  • Marty100

    This is a ridiculous article. Facebook, twitter, etc. are for dummies.

  • teacher extraordinaire

    Small districts with limited resources and facilities, can’t begin to answer most of these statements… we will always have computer labs, yes, we have wifi, but it will be limited to our teachers, labs and portable classrooms. You constantly allow students on phones and hand held devices, they will never get anything done. Solely because you cannot stand over every one at the same time and ensure that they are not texting, calling, facebooking, tweeting, etc. when they are supposed to be doing something else

    • teacher extraordinaire

      As a math teacher, I have never had computers in my classroom…and I have worked for very wealthy districts. I have never had an data projector until this year. We will always have libraries for little ones to be able to grab a book and read…I teach in a 4K-12 building of 400 students…you can’t have everything new and fancy -

  • Gary G

    As someone who has been a teacher for 13 years now, allow me to say “screw you.”

  • ICELAND-PURESIMPLE

    A useful article upon which to chew the cud. The principles are fine but the realities somewhat different. All pulling together…….? Hummm

  • William Smith

    The problem is that both Democrats and Republicans play with educational funding like a child who has found their parent’s gun – no responsibility or accountability. Neither party knows anything about education and how it should be administrated yet they are given the power to create and destroy the educational programs students need.. They screw around with funding simply to fit in with their political theories, not based on actual results or real information. Schools need to be left out of the political grand-standing and given access to the funding they need. Leave student education to the people that know what is needed – the teachers. Politicians need to shut their mouths and keep their uneducated opinions to themselves. Sign the check and get out of the teacher’s way. The political solutions to education today is much akin to having 15 people telling a carpenter how and why to use his hammer while refusing to allow him to use it to drive one nail into a board. You can’t get any work done with that level of stupidity int he way.

  • TheGirlWhoLived

    I’m really loving all these adults in the comments telling me how these things wouldn’t help my high school education. Because every single one of these things is completely accurate. I wake up at 6 every morning, I can’t eat school lunch because I’m a vegetarian, and I’m bored in class because it’s taught to the middle and offers nothing for accelerated students. I don’t know anything about the shooting that almost took place, I know nothing about the trench-coated man who stood in the girls bathroom down the hall from me. You can go on and on about how irrelevant this article is but as an actual high school student, this is everything I need.

  • Bonnie Sue

    wi-fi is no longer considered a luxury but an every day necessity.

  • kbkaus

    I feel like there are a variety of reasons these things still exists. Treating students and teachers as one entity needs to be changed. Along with upgrading the technology in the schools. The later is much easier said than done I fear.

  • umbrarchist

    A National Recommended Reading List would have been useful for this decades ago. How about mandatory accounting in the schools. What would the economy be like if that had been mandatory since the 50s.

    With microSD that hold 32 gig what do kids need with the Internet?

    The Accounting Game: Basic Accounting Fresh From the Lemonade Stand
    http://www.exceltip.com/book-1570713960.html
    http://www.fool.com/personal-finance/general/2006/10/18/foolish-book-review-quotthe-accounting-gamequot.aspx

    Radically Simple Accounting by Madeline Bailey
    http://qccomputing.com/radical-accounting-book.htm

    • lhpartridge

      psikey?

  • Daniel Curry

    15: Schools that teach only facts and opinions to be memorized have made them obsolete by not training the minds of students to think.

  • joebeckmann

    Fifty years ago, Lawrence Cremin – later President of Teachers College – would regale his “History of American Education” class with the story of Josiah Quincy School, the first graded school in America, built in 1847. It had eight grades because the contractor, assessing the site, figured it could hold eight rooms. There is no deeper “developmental” foundation for graded elementary schools than that.

  • snp1221

    You had me until the whole “start later” thing. That isn’t preparing students for the real world where they will need to get out of bed and be at jobs before 8:50. Flippantly stating that we teachers can just use the “extra time” to prepare for class and then stay later to accommodate the new time schedule is insensitive to say the least. We already work long hours for little pay and few benefits. If we can be up at a reasonable, time, so can the kids. And here’s a novel idea: they should try going to bed before 1 AM. Then they wouldn’t be so tired….just sayin’.

  • lhpartridge

    The sad thing for me is that I began using the internet in class almost
    immediately, way back in the 20th century. Now the computer labs are
    nearly always co-opted for test prep sessions using software that is
    basically no different from paper-based products. And my foreign
    language classes, which don’t matter compared to the state-tested
    subjects? We haven’t been able to get to the computer lab but once all
    year. There are dozens of online activities that I used to use, but I
    no longer have access to a class set of computers. I can model some of
    them using my computer and a 20-year-old LCD panel projector. The
    Spanish teacher doesn’t even have a computer anymore. Hers was taken at
    the beginning of the last school year and it was never replaced.

    It’s hard to believe that we have gone so far backwards.

  • Jan-Erik Finlander

    Hi Ingvi,

    Thanks a lot for your brilliant article!
    Greetings from Finland

  • Ed Gar Eslit

    Hello, Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson. I agree. Perfect paradigm shift. Integrating stakeholders, students, government funding and teachers spectrum into one will certainly benefit us all.

  • Ben Newton

    as a professional web designer i can’t say i agree with point #10. students and staff don’t have the expertise for creating an appropriate website that ticks all the boxes as far as promoting the school in a professional way. i’ve seen this happen at a few schools in my area – and the results have never been pretty. the author clearly doesn’t understand that as with teaching, there are levels of ability. Just as a poor teacher turns parents and students away, so does poor presentation of the school in their marketing.

    • http://about.me/ingvihrannar Ingvi Hrannar

      I agree with you in many ways. That is why I think that students can do this in some cases like I mention but certainly not all.

  • Em

    Mostly an interesting article, but with a few problems: one of the great things about schooling in the classroom is that the environment can be managed to be safe and secure for all. Thus, the “closed” classroom can also feel very secure for young people – I know I felt that way about the classrooms I was in as a child, where we were all bonded as part of a community (rather than “isolated” from the wider world). I imagine this may be even more important now, given cyber-bullying and so on – kids can be free of external intrusions while in school. Of course children should be encouraged to use technology as appropriate, but it is also going to become vitally important for kids to learn to be independent – when to switch off from the technology they are so reliant upon. This also feeds into the notion of a library as a social space, or relaxing learning space. This moves dangerously close to devaluing the kind of hard work and in-depth research that a room full of hard-copy texts represents. My experience in teaching university students has revealed a stark drop in the number of kids who have ever sat down with a complex book and simply read it cover to cover. In order to fully excel in high-level academic environments, this kind of diligence and concentration is still needed (and will always be needed)! Kids who come in hoping to write a critical essay using only online texts are generally going to perform poorly. Even where texts are available online, searching Google scholar or sections of text on Amazon does not make you an expert in Western Philosophy! This brings me to my final point: while it is important to value different learning styles, and to support the creativity and adaptability of children, it must be done in such a way that talented and clever kids can perform to their potential, and where kids who are not ever going to be exceptional in any way are not given false hope and impractical skills. Creative thinking is useful – and it is especially useful for those with a natural aptitude for acquiring, analysing, synthesising, and communicating knowledge. Plenty of kids, however, can only acquire and communicate, and need to be supported with analysis and synthesis. Creative thinking and alternative learning approaches will only take them so far – and, at the end of the day, they still won’t be at the same level as those who are naturally intellectually talented. IQ tests do have their flaws, but intelligence – however you measure it – is still going to be distributed across the population in such a way that there is a “top 10%”. Methods of teaching that can allow the academically talented students who are not socially or culturally in the top 10% reach that level educationally will be the best methods – not methods that value the middle and lower 50% (academically), raising there level based on their social and cultural background, and economic status. For example, little Jimmy might perform in the mid-range in an IQ test, and struggle to read the novel 1984, and explain in an exam (writen or oral) what the themes or messages are in this text. However, given an “alternative learning environment”, with additional support hours, non-standardised testing, and multimedia-based learning, Jimmy may be able to a) acquire and regurgitate a great deal of information from other sources regarding the novel b) create a series of pictures reiterating the narrative or summarising the characters in the novel c) perform better against his own previous achievement d) watch the film, rather than read the book. Meanwhile, little Timmy, falling into the top 10% in an IQ test, in a standard learning environment, reads the novel, perfectly synthesises the information given, and excels in the exam. Given the creative learning opportunities, little Timmy might go on to write their own version of the novel, with a complex synthesis of the ideas (rather than a factual recount). He might also present alternative positions to his own, found online, or engage someone in the field (an academic, for example) in a discussion about the test. Which of these students is going to naturally do well in a critical learning environment like a university? Aptitude still counts, and giving middle-and-upper-middle-class kids of average ability non-standardised means to demonstrate how unique they are will only produce more of the egotistical, over-confident gen-y’s, who want to know why I haven’t given them an A for writing a disjointed, unreferenced, “creative” essay, which shows their ability to interact with contemporary “social media”, but no knowledge of media culture (for example).

  • David Ashby

    Schools need tech directors who are first and foremost teachers and not IT. IT guys have a way of acting as gatekeepers of technology as opposed to facilitators, advocates, and teachers.

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  • Holly Julia Belanger

    We still have computer labs for those grades that don’t have 1 to 1 devices. It works and is a good thing. One size fits all staff development is somewhat still here. Letting students have cell phones in the classroom is a huge distraction. We let them use them for educational purposes last year and it didn’t work. Facebook is blocked at my school and I am glad it is! It is nothing, but a major distraction. Students are kids and need constant supervision. They aren’t mini-adults and definitely lack discretion.

  • Charlie Morriss

    I am a college English teacher. I find it difficult to suggest that mobile devices, such as the iPad and smartphones are acceptable platforms for conducting serious undergraduate research and composing research papers. I want my students’ experiences to resemble the real world. I do not believe that I would use a smartphone or an iPad to conduct my research and compose important prose. I’ve tried using the iPad for composition, but it doesn’t work for this purpose, and many of my students complained about being required to use it in this manner. I suppose one could use a smart phone to read journal articles and scan databases, but again, why would a person do this in the real world? The screen is small, the bandwidth is often restrained, and the ability to save documents and manipulate them is quite difficult. The same is true of the iPad. I would also suggest this: serious contemplation and research is not something that should be done on a train, in a store, at a game, in the back seat of a car, or at a kitchen table on a 2″ X 4″ screen. Research and study should be done in an environment that lends itself to deep thought. Suggesting that students can take tests and do research “on the fly” with a smart phone or iPad misses the mark with regard to the environment. While these devices are convenient, and the learning platforms can often be entertaining, I cling to the belief that the kind of deep thought, contemplation, meditation, and developmental cognition that results from focusing on a text in an appropriate environment is irreplaceable. It would seem to me that it is difficult to explore Hegel while sitting on a commuter train, listening to Lil’ Wayne on one’s headphones, while perusing the text on the squinty screen of an iPhone between episodes of Candy Crush. Good luck with that.

    • for_the_one

      First, get rid of the apple fetish. If you have difficulty saving a document on a device, you have issues. It is simple. Second, the distractions you mention are valid, but do not diminish the value of using the devices, they just highlight proper environment to use the device. Ultimately, yes, it is still easier at a computer with a nice large monitor, but then a desktop is not exactly portable to take with you to a class room. Physical books are the antithesis of both portability, and ease of use, and are number 1 in terms of being obsolete.

  • https://twitter.com/sarahsalpeter Sarah Salpeter

    I know I am really late to the table with my input – how about all of the sports/media celebs & corp CEO’s giving a % of their earnings to help fuel our school system? Not sure how making $10M+ per year is going to hurt someone if they give back $1-2M/yr into our countries future. Just dreaming…

    • for_the_one

      How about we teach proper economics in schools, so that students do not come out with class envy, and realize how the economy really works.

  • Lynne Kemmer

    Re: #11 Libraries – Can we please add the main purpose of a library, and librarians, which is to teach transferable information competency skills (learning to search effectively for, locate, identify [types of], and evaluate) information utilizing the web, online [library] catalogs, and research databases (to include eBook collections), as well as to develop, select, manage, and provide access to the aforementioned research tools and resources (online, print, streaming, et al) that support school/academic research??

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  • Charles Michael Garcia

    I don’t work for an elementary, junior high or high school, but I can see how things are changing. I work for a junior college that has as its goal to be a totally online campus. Classrooms still have closed doors, but cell phones, ipads and laptops in classrooms are the norm in addition to having computer labs. A course management system is in place which has the e-text for a course as well as homework assignments, quizzes and tests. Communication between instructor and students via e-mail and texts is now becoming more and more common.

  • bug menot

    Missed the list: The school itself.
    It’s as monolithic as a pyramid and almost as expensive.

  • Michael

    I disagree with #5.
    While only having technology “co-ordinators” sounds nice the reason why you need administrator who controls access is so you can control your IT environment. Managing IT in a workplace (especially one that focuses on the care, well being, and education of children) is not a simple task. Admins are constantly thinking about/dealing with security threats, user privacy concerns, and licensing issues all while keep equipment/systems up and running. Heck, admins needed now more than ever due to the connected world we live in. A good Technical Director should be working with students, staff, and system administrators to give the students/staff what they need (within their budget of course) in the first place.

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  • Clarissa Brooks

    This is very interesting in that schools should adjust and grow with the new age of technology. Students today are growing up and learning very differently then when I was a child. We didn’t many of the technology advancements that we have now and they should be incorporated into methods of enhancing students learning. My child just started school a year ago and I was not completely happy with many of the public schools in my St. Louis area and have chosen to send her to a Montessori school. Schooling procedures and reforms have been a huge topic lately and these are just some great points public schools could follow to help better address childrens education by adhering to today’s learning styles.

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  • Selena

    Oh, my dear colleague, Sweden must be one hell of a country to live in! I tend to agree with some of the things but hey – reality check first:
    - school budgets in “regular” countries: School budget? What’s that? I buy my own paper, I design my own material and have no time to post it anywhere because I have deadlines of all kinds to meet.
    - Teacher-sharing thing: See above. Plus, some colleagues simply hate you because you do more so you stop telling them, not bragging, telling! Not to mention derogatory remarks every time you try to present a new idea, the most benign being :”Well, you obviously have a lot of time on your hands!”
    - Support: I live in a country that does not support education in any way, They do not care about how I teach and whether I have taught my students anything beside English (like compassion, tolerance, understanding).

    – Letting students use their cell phones – We have a problem detaching the cell phones fro their precious fingers! They are 18 and use their cells to play games and text each other, not for educational purposes. I take away their phones and let each group have only two in case they need to look something up. Why would they care? They can skip 26 lessons by law and still not be punished! Basically, they are allowed to NOT go to school for the entire week, because the system lets them, and you cannot do anything about their absences!
    Principles are appointed on the political basis, so imagine corruption and bribery in such places.
    Sweden- a happy place!

    • for_the_one

      You buy paper, why? Paper should be on this list of obsolete things.

  • eduardodonascimento

    It is neccesary to ban phones and tablets for students, because they use them to twit, chat in facebook

    • for_the_one

      Then you let them fail. Banning them also inhibits the ones who want to excel. I will let the ones who want to fail, fail, and the ones who want to excel, excel.

      • sprincessteacher

        We aren’t allowed to let children fail. I can’t recall a single child who has failed in my system until they reach grade 12.

  • Sarah

    Haha, sounds a lot like homeschooling. I’ve always thought the school system is too rigid and private. Parents should be encouraged to visit and help.

    Kids should be placed with kids that are academically at the same level, not the same age. Even the smallest schools often have more than 1 class per grade. If at math hour they were in a class with their math peers, then at spelling with their spelling peers, etc, there would be less struggles with those behind and distraction from those bored. The one room school house model worked well this way. Now that we have larger schools we should easily be able to follow this type of model, but of course we live in a politically correct world where we don’t let anyone excel, and yet we expect everyone to learn the way we tell them to without room for those who can’t without labeling them with some new disability. It’s called childhood, boredom, different learning styles or simply not being ready.

  • Smarty Bright

    I don’t agree with no.9. if teens shouldn’t start school @ 8 am. what time they have to start? That’s why in Islam, praying @ down time is the best way to start the day asking ‘n thanking to the Almighty for giving us another day to do good deeds, including ‘ studying -

  • J Michael Petro

    What state are you in that standardized tests are not legislated? The ideas behind them may be obsolete, but here in the great state of OHIO, we’ve got more standardized testing coming down the pike, not less. And the computer lab that is obsolete is a requirement of the state to ensure testing is standardized.

  • BlueTexas

    As someone was schooled in the nightmare that was the “open classroom concept” of the 70′s and 80′s, “extra-open schooldays” sound like a return to the nightmare, but I am not an educator. I spent my whole childhood dreaming of an isolated classroom.

  • sprincessteacher

    I agree with absolutely everything in this article. Fantastic. People who are saying it would never work because of funding are right…BUT that means funding has to change.

  • ivett Castillo-Levy

    Although I believe in mostly all of the points this article makes…it is virtually impossible to implement most of these points. In my opinion this is the problem with education; we continue to believe that education is the sole responsibility of schools and those who directly educate students. Although, this article is correct in naming what is obsolete in education, it fails to mention the ABSOLUTE need for parents and guardians to be active participants in their children’s education. We will never reach our goals of equitably educating children without understanding that educating children is far more complicated than leaving all the educating at the teachers classroom doorstep. My response is not meant to be negative toward the author and their apparent passion for education. I only want to point out that I do want the changes that are highlighted in this article, but without truly addressing our students, their families, socioeconomic status, & lessening the political nature of education, we will not see the changes that are vital for the progression of 21st century learners.

  • Khorshed Bhote

    Actually, this is the best educational blog I have read in a long time. I especially like your opening statement. It always amazes me that some educators, who want (or should want) their learners to try new things and experiences, are themselves most reluctant to change. Is it not that learning = change? And each change is a learning curve? Come on, educators shape other professions, so let’s always strive to be at the cutting edge.

  • Get a grip

    What an idealistic load of crap!

  • kris

    Great article, gota disagree with some aspects of no.5 from personal experience though. You really gota lock down your permissions tight and only have people who are experienced in what they are doing working with things that are relevant to the core systems. As they are very touchy and it is amazing easy to break everything.

    On the other hand though, most of the time us tech’s are in teams, most high schools usually have 2 or 3 people at least working in IT for the school.

    TLDR; General troubleshooting and stuff is fine but when it comes down to core stuff you have to be very careful who accesses it.

  • Sandra

    I only agree with number 8 and 9 and believe that what is obsolete is putting forward rules like this, assuming they can be used worldwide in every context. That’s standaerdized! Teachers and students may benefit and should benefit from technology, but they do not need to become slaves and clones! It is still nice to listen to people, discuss things in class. It is not necessary to have and use all gadgets at the same time in every context. Do you think it is nice to speak to people sitting at the same dinner table as you via phone or tablet? I use and like technology and I feel some of the suggestions are utopian and others really obsolete!
    I surely agree with many of the comments below… do you actually believe most schools have the necessary funding to be so well equipped?

  • John Milligan

    If the answer to a test question can be found on Google, it’s not an effective question to test problem solving abilities or critical thinking. They would just be parroting someone else’s opinion or thought process and not coming up with their own. That’s why I DON’T allow phones/tablets on exams. I want to see what they can do and what they think the explanation is or should be.

  • Katy Tafoya

    I love your vision for our schools. As the technology teacher, I’ve been pushing for a few of these changes in our school. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’re quite ready to go *there* just yet. Luckily, in my classes I’m able to use any and all forms of technology and do my best to work closely with my fellow middle school teachers.

  • semperfitillidie

    Cell phones can also be used to cheat with. As for libraries, don’t get rid of those. Students need REAL books as well as kindle. Re: starting at 8 am…that’s crap. What will those teens do when they enter a workforce that says your job starts at x time? The world doesn’t revolve around our caprices.

  • OneStep

    Some big ones have been missed… Like the curriculum and the mode of delivery. I am blown away by how useless some of the “learning” is that many students are expected to undertake. In such an expensive enterprise as public education, one would expect only the most essential and useful content (or perhaps that which would create the most future GDP) would be included. It is similarly amazing that teachers have not been replaced by and large by electronically delivered curriculum. Not that it is preferrable to have a video player for a teacher and a set of senseless algorithms marking your work…
    I heartily disagree with the “phones and tablets” point. Most schools have them and use them effectively here. In many learning contexts they are a temptation and distraction. In an increasingly tech-dependent, self-centred and sedentary world, excluding them may be a positive step. They definitely have their place though!

  • JConti

    This article was amazing and I applaud you for writing it. I agree with everything you have brought up. The biggest issue, I believe, is complacency. If our leaders were willing to take some risks, think differently and change things up, we could see some real positive change. Isn’t the definition of insanity something like repeating the same thing again and again and expecting different results. Our current system is a sham and the majority have the power to demand change. It simply takes more interest from complacent community members. Ask questions, demand more (not of the poor teachers and principals already treading water, but rather the policy makers and politicians responsible for crapping all over our children’s future). This can happen, but people need to care about it and act.

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  • http://www.parental-intelligence.com Bob Collier

    I was reading articles like this ten years ago. Apparently nothing much has changed – except that, in the meantime, home education is booming. Nobody these days needs to wait for schools to wake up to get an education..That’s the reality of it.