Microsoft’s Bill Gates made some solid comments the other day in a speech addressing the need for modernizing the High School curriculum offered forcibly to our young kids at 9th grade level. He noted a government study that here in America, out of every 100 school-kids at 9th grade, only 68 will graduate on time, only 18 will make it through college on time, and that at 4 year college, one in four have to take at least one remedial course to master what they should already know.
He said that it wasn’t just a case of kids not working hard enough, but that today’s schools working as designed are obsolete, and cannot teach our kids what they need to know to function well in the outside world.
And I say Hear! Hear! to that, and also that I’ve always known that to be true!
At the age of 72, I am trying to teach myself to touch type on what is now referred to as a “keyboard”. I know that it will be an uphill job, and I will never achieve a decent WPM rate.
I am largely a self-taught person in most things I know, and I don’t credit my schooling (England’s Watford Grammar School, and a lot of later private tuition as a child actor) for much, other than that they caused me to think for myself, and fed my curiosity.
But I have always wondered why my early childhood education did not include the learning of, not just knowledge, but of incorporating functions which use the synapses of the brain to become automatic. The chances start at a very early age, some say baby-hood, even, and it doesn’t re-emerge later, and the time, once past, is lost forever.
If I had had my way, my kids would have been started on this course even before they could stand.
First, how to visually recognize number patterns and systems including the magic “x” of algebra, words, symbols, and at least one other language.
Then, how to read music, how to touch type, mime and verbal improvisation with others, how to take pictures, how to organize data, and at least one ball game.
Then, how to cook, how to tend a garden, how to use a sewing machine, how to ride a horse, how to use tools for construction, how to paint in oils, how to edit pictures, how to build a computer, how to debate, how to read poetry, how to write a song, and how to manage money including investment and book-keeping, and finally, how to sail a boat and fly a plane.
That’s a minimum for everyone, no exceptions.
Because, as a basis for life, enough foundation would be laid for the age of “specialization” to emerge in the late teen years. And they will spend the rest of their lives thankful for getting all that stuff behind them at an early age. From that other stuff, everything missing will flow, and be a lot easier to master, and a lot faster to process toward goals.
I believe that the problem has always been that while lessons are devised to develop agility of the mind, they are created in ways that remain academic, and thus largely pointless and therefore boring to the bewildered child. Perhaps the educators themselves failed at “doing”, which is why they became teachers.
Students today should be learning and applying practical and useful knowledge for later use in the real world. It is not only productive, but is much much much more fun. And I can’t see anyone wanting to become a lawyer. Maybe a judge.
Oh well, now let me see, eyes closed, QWERTYUIOP[] 2nd row, ASDFGHJKL;’ 3rd row ZXCVBNM,./ . . . .