Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

What would work to improve education?

Here’s an issue which has been cropping up over and over again.  Whenever we discuss issues on Twitter, through #edchat or #iste10, or whatever educational channel we choose, we are by and large, preaching to the converted.  We don’t need to prosthelytize to these people, because quite simply, they agree with us.  It’s not a complete waste of time because we have the opportunity to hash out issues, look at some finer points of the issues, but I don’t think it has an enormous positive effect on the overall quality of education.

Why not?  Well, the people on Twitter represent a tiny fraction of all of the teachers in the world.  A tiny, tiny fraction, who for the most part have some skill set which sets them apart from their peers.  Many of us are techies, which is seen as this impossible skill that only a select few of us can obtain.  So as a result of this tiny size and this separation from our peers, we have very little influence.  So not only are we spending time chatting away only to each other, we can’t even share what we are talking about with our peers because they think that since it is coming in our voice, that it must be the domain of the unmasterable, except by the all-knowing technology expert.

So I have some ideas about how we can actually change education.  Some simple ideas, and ways to actually get them implemented.

1.  We need to advertise what we do widely and to the right audience. I’m thinking national ad campaigns in our individual countries, specifically about effective educational practices and what they look like.  They can be sponsored by educational technology companies, as long as the message comes across, THIS is what works, not this is the tool that works.  If we show that the educational practices work, the educational technology companies will make their money.  These types of ads should be targeted at both parents and politicians.  The really cool thing is that the media we’d like to use already exists all over the place on Twitter.  We share among ourselves daily, but it has yet to see a wide enough audience.

2.  We need to collectively hire a spokesperson whom we trust and who can bridge the gap between us, and our top level education ministers, whomever they may be in our respective countries.  A lobbyist if you will, who lobbies specifically for the use of effective and proven education techniques and against standardized testing.  This lobbyist should stand apart from the educational technology companies so that he or she has her own voice, but so they can also act as a funnel for a wide variety of effective techniques and best practices in education.  We would really like someone who is a known celebrity to step up and join our cause.  For some reason celebrities have more pull than we do, and can effect more change than we can.

3.  We need to continue to work at the grass roots level and improve education in our own schools, one student, one teacher, one parent, and one administrator at a time.  Without effective practices to feed into the ad campaign and to our spokes-person, our effects to demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach will fail.

Any other suggestions for concrete things we can do to improve our various education systems?