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A Fundamental Problem in Education

This diagram represents a problem in education which is, by no means, the ONLY problem in education.

People who are deeply knowledgeable about education vs people who set education policy.


How do we change this paradigm?



About David

David is a Formative Assessment Specialist for Mathematics at New Visions for Public Schools in NYC. He has been teaching since 2002, and has worked in Brooklyn, London, Bangkok, and Vancouver before moving back to the United States. He has his Masters degree in Educational Technology from UBC, and is the co-author of a mathematics textbook. He has been published in ISTE's Leading and Learning, Educational Technology Solutions, The Software Developers Journal, The Bangkok Post and Edutopia. He blogs with the Cooperative Catalyst, and is the Assessment group facilitator for Edutopia. He has also helped organize the first Edcamp in Canada, and TEDxKIDS@BC.


My modest proposal is to take that Gordian knot and cut it into 2 pieces. The people who are included in each piece will then take on both roles; that is, the people deeply knowledgeable about learning will start schools, run education systems (that they create), and set policies for those systems. The people who set policy will continue doing what they're doing. They'll continue to hire TFA (and other non-teacher-prepped) teachers, and run their schools that way. They should be thrilled because their employees will be cheaper.
Then we'll see which school system people prefer.

David Wees's picture

I laughed out loud when I read your comment. Part of me really likes this idea. I'd be pretty sad for the students who end up in the schools that Team "Knowledgeable About Learning" would not be running, but within a generation, I hope, we'd see school systems being mostly run by people who are more likely to be knowledgeable about learning.

Well, many students are already in Team "KAL" run-schools, so I doubt it'd be any worse for them. But the payoff could be huge.
Just call me "Mr. Marketplace of Ideas" :)

Of course, what I meant was that many students are already in Team "policymakers not knowledgeable about learning" schools, not the hypothetical new ones.
Dangit. Midterms have fried my brain.

I don't that really is a problem in education. No more so than in any other field. That's also how we make transportion or labor policy.

David Wees's picture

I think you could easily find some doctors who could say the same thing about medicine as my claim... maybe it IS field dependent as whether it is critical that the policy makers actually understand the field in which they are setting policy.

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