Shift Happens Is USA ready?

I hope those of you who have been visiting my site take the time to watch at least part of this video. The facts are mind blowing to say the least. This video is not brand new so you may have seen it before.
I probably don’t have to worry too much longer about the effects of this global transformation, but my grandchildren (if I ever am fortunate enough to have any) and their grandchildren will continue to live in worlds many of us can’t even begin to imagine.
When I migrated through the education maze in the 50s and 60s it was thought most important to learn facts. As long as we could regurgitate answers, we were deemed “educated”. I remember how grateful I was that we never had to do the story problems at the bottoms of the math book pages. As long as we could add, subtract, multiply, and divide the problems at the top of the pages, we were fine.

What I didn’t realize then that I do now, it was those questions which would have taught us how to think. I now believe the reason that we were never required to do those questions is that the teachers we had were probably unable to teach us how to do them.
That’s not a slam against my teachers. Except for a couple of them, I really did like all of them, and for their time, I believed them to be good teachers. However, they were brought up in an age that viewed “learning” in the same way. Read, write, and regurgitate. That was education.

In high school I had a history teacher who taught the same material the same way year after year. She only changed when the district adopted a new text. She had outlined each chapter of the book and her class consisted of copying the notes she wrote on the chalkboard. I knew her back much better than her front. She only faced the class a few minutes each class. I remember that Thomas Jefferson had red hair and rode a white horse to his inauguration. I actually had to put that in my notes. Funny the stuff you can remember. All of her tests were multiple choice. I don’t blame her, however. It is difficult to grade essay tests when there are thirty to a class and you have five or six classes a day.

I will admit when I first started teaching, I taught the way I was taught, that is, concentrating on learning the basic facts. I thought it was important that my students be able to recognize whether they were writing complete sentences and to tell me immediately what 36/6 was.

 We were all told that our teaching style would develop  based on how we learned. To a great extent in the beginning of my career, this was true. Then in continuing ed classes I started to learn how to let the children create products and present what they had learned in a variety of ways. Now I was wise enough to know that some of the children got more than 90% help from parents, but they were still responsible for reporting to the class the results of their work. Their oral presentations counted just as much as their project did. They had to know what they were talking about. This evened the field out somewhat. There were always children who had no help whose projects looked rather grim but they gave excellent reports and answered all questions satisfactorily. There were those whose projects looked great but didn’t really have much to say about them and couldn’t answer simple questions.

There was a superintendent who really bought into children learning to think and reason. However, this was to the point where he saw no reason for the kids to drill on math facts. We weren’t to spend class time on such things as timed tests or playing “around the world” competitions to shout out fact answers. As a result, the kids knew how to do the problems but got stuck knowing whether the answer was correct because they had to use all kinds of devices such as fingers or hash marks to find out 7×6. We were told that all the kids would always have calculators for that basic knowledge. My question was always, “How will they know if the calculator is working properly?”

About twenty years ago, we were told we had to teach the children how to learn. Everything was about higher level thinking skills. Teachers would not be evaluated very highly if their lesson on the day of evaluation was basic knowledge and comprehension. This was from kindergarten on up.

Now, believe me, I taught in this new way, but in the back of my mind I always wondered how the students were supposed to use the higher level thinking skills if they had limited knowledge and comprehension. To me it was kind of like building a high rise without the foundational basement.

I do know that what were facts yesterday may not be facts today, especially in science. The world, once and for all, is NOT flat, and the sun does NOT revolve around the earth. Those two facts were irrefutable about five to six hundred years ago. Facts change as new research prove they are no longer correct. That means we cannot teach “just the facts, maam” as Sgt. Joe Friday would have wanted. Our knowledge is expanding at exponential rates. It is now impossible to learn even a small fraction of everything.

According to the video, more information will be generated this year in exabytes than was generated in the last 5,000 years. In case you are wondering, this is an exabyte      :DEFINITION – An exabyte (EB) is a large unit of computer data storage, two to the sixtieth power bytes. The prefix exa means one billion billion, or one quintillion, which is a decimal term. Two to the sixtieth power is actually 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes in decimal, or somewhat over a quintillion (or ten to the eighteenth power) bytes. It is common to say that an exabyte is approximately one quintillion bytes. In decimal terms, an exabyte is a billion gigabytes. Now, does that blow your mind or what?

Fact: Student in high school can’t find South America on a map. They don’t know who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. but know that Sponge Bob lives at the bottom of the sea. Fact: The top 25% of Chinese students are more students than all of the US total.

American education is failing huge numbers of students. 

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Nearly 6.2 million students in the United States between the ages of 16 and 24 in 2007 dropped out of high school, fueling what a report released Tuesday called “a persistent high school dropout crisis.”

Is it because we don’t teach them basic information on which to build higher level thinking skills? Is it because we teach too much “knowledge” and not enough thinking? No one really tends to have the answer. Of course we must factor in all the societal changes which have been taking place. I do know that once the British Empire ruled the world. Once the United States led the way in all areas for the rest of the world to follow. Now it continues to fall in rank.

In spite of all this, there is still hope. With this vast knowledge and instant communication, the shift is happening. The following video is an update you might find interesting. Maybe there is a light at the end of our proverbial tunnel after all.

Thanks for dropping by. Namaste. Attic Annie

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