Wednesday, December 03, 2008

This Isn't the '50s - You Can't Force Kids to Learn

Jeff Mill has a great interview, in The Middletown Press, with education consultant, Jonathan P. Costa. Costa offers his
vision of the future of education. Some really good stuff here. Schools’ future certain to change with the times
“This isn’t the ’50s,” he said. “You can’t force kids to learn anything.”

“Degrees are becoming less meaningful [in business] than a portfolio,” he said.


Teachers will need to cater their teaching methods to get the results they desire from their students, he said.

“The things adults do in schools are strategies. What children do in schools are goals.”

Teachers will instruct in whichever way they discover is best for their students, and will result in the best outcome, he suggested.

“High school especially is going to a mix of models,” Costa suggested.

Many students will finish high school in three years, and then spend their first year of college taking classes online — “and saving their parents $35,000,” he said.

Students will be “hot,” Costa said — engaged in “a higher order of thinking.”

That will result in a different idea of what we expect of — or what amounts to — a student’s success.

Nokia, the Finnish cellular telephone company, has offered a prediction about how employees will learn in the future, Costas said.

“They will get 10 percent of what they need in school, 30 percent from interaction with their co-workers — and the remaining 60 percent they will learn as needed,” he said.

Costa said the fact that he is quoting Nokia only underscores another reality.

“Today, you are competing against everybody.”

“What won’t change are the skills students will need” — which Costa said they will still get in school — reading skills, socialization and critical thinking.

“What is frightening is how much of what we have traditionally taught we will no longer need,” he confessed — and how it will be taught.

“The Hoover Institute at Stanford University estimates that half of all the courses in grades 9 to 12 will be taught online,” he said.

For those who doubt that estimate, Costa noted the university with the highest enrollment today is the online University of Phoenix, which has 250,000 students.

That new reality is creating a split society, however, Costa said, between those who are digital natives and those who are not, those who instead learn in the soon-to-be old-fashioned linear environment.

Digital natives “look at the world through a different set of lenses,” he said.

That will change how school buildings look, how teachers teach — and how towns fund their schools, he said.

The future can be summed up by the model of Google, Costa suggested.

“Five years ago, it was founded by two snot-nosed kids,” Costa joked. Today, the stock is worth $400 a share.

Compare that with General Motors, Costa suggested.

Once, GM was the colossus of American industry. Today, it is teetering on the brink of collapse.

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