Education Has Changed: We're Getting Better

Call me hopeful. Call me an optimist. Call me naive, even.

I am hopeful, and I am an optimist. But I don’t think I’m naive (at least on this topic).

I believe our education system is improving. That we’re on the right path. It’s probably surprising to hear those words, but I have more: I’m a teacher!

I started teaching in 2013 and have grinded out 5 years. Here’s what I’ve learned.

There are 4 huge changes that have taken place in modern education and these changes are going to be what drive us into success and further improved education models.

  1. Increased Amount of Research and Knowledge About Learning

  2. We’re Beginning to Apply What We’ve Learned (Sometimes we’re slow and don’t always apply it the right way)

  3. Adjusted Goal of Public Education

  4. The Individual Educator is Better Trained

Increased Amount of Research and Knowledge About Learning

We know way more about how people learn than ever before. We know more about developmental stages than ever before. We know way more about what makes good teaching. This should not be understated.

We have pretty strong, research-based ideas about the best ways to educate a classroom of children and the best way to run our educational institutions. We are armed with this information for the first time in the history of the world. Now, when teachers, administrators and educational politicians make decisions regarding our education system they have a much stronger knowledge base with which to weigh their options. The research is still coming in, and a lot of it. We will only improve in this regard.

We’re Beginning to Apply What We’ve Learned (Sometimes we’re slow and don’t always apply it the right way)

This is a positive that we, admittedly, have had difficulties with. All that we are learning via the research regarding education is in the process of being applied in schools. However, it hasn’t always been applied in the right way and these large scale institutional changes take time to implement. Often, while in the process of undergoing one large scale change, more research comes out that indicates a better direction to go. We are changing so quickly based on the research that we haven’t had time to find our equilibrium. However, we will improve.

As more education research comes out it will become more and more clear on what truly matters in an education system. Those essentials will eventually be reflected by policy decisions, leadership decisions and, most importantly, classroom decisions. We are going through some growing pains and are learning from some of our mistakes (self esteem movement), but we are certainly improving in the ways that we implement the new incoming information - especially at the district and individual school level.

Adjusted Goal of Public Education

We now believe that we need to ensure that all students are college and career ready. However that wasn’t always the case. The following expert is pulled from the recently released Focused Schools book:

In reality, our current public schools are doing a wonderful job of what they were originally intended to do, perhaps even a better job than ever before. Our current public school system was envisioned some 150 years ago. At that time, it was a great experiment. No other country in the world had the audacity to attempt to educate all of its children—even girls, even those whose families owned no property or titles, even those from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and whose families spoke different languages.
At that time, the goal was to fully educate about 20 percent of the students, as that was the amount needed to go on for further training and education, to become the managers, leaders, and decision-makers of the industrial society. The other 80 percent were to become literate to about the sixth-grade level—the level at which newspapers and periodicals were written, as democracy requires an informed public. They were to be trained to follow directions and be comfortable performing routine tasks repeatedly for extended periods of time—skills needed in many industrial society jobs.

We would suggest public education is not only meeting this goal very well but exceeding the goal by a great deal—significantly more than 20 percent are achieving full education and going on to advanced educational opportunities. Schools are accomplishing this with greater challenges than ever before, e.g., television, video games, chat rooms, and multiple organized sports; increased cultural and language diversity; and decreased parental involvement. Our schools and our educators should be celebrated for their success!
Unfortunately, while schools are excelling at meeting the old target for which they had been organized, the greater world has changed dramatically, and the target has moved.

The target has certainly moved, but we are excelling in relation to our old targets. You can reference recent census data to see for yourself: US Census. Yes, we have a lot of work to do with the achievement gap, but it is improving slightly. High School graduation rates are improving rapidly. Our society is educated at a considerably higher level than ever before with a higher level of educator leading the way.

The Individual Educator is Better Trained

Because of the fact that we, as a society, now understand more about human learning, our brains, and human development we are training our future professionals better than ever before. Again, we have much room to grow but we are on the right track. Many of the university education programs are educating with modern research at the forefront of what they are teaching. Teachers now know, with a stronger conviction than ever before, what good education is and how to make it happen. We’re not perfect, but we’re on the right track.

We, as a country, as a society, as a group people, are educating our citizens at the highest rates of all time. There are many issues still playing a large role, but we are working on them and making progress. Our process is having positive effects, but slowly. It takes much effort and coordination to effectively educate the 300+ million people of the United States. The research often comes in faster than we can apply it, but that’s an overall positive, not a negative.

US Census:

Bryan RobertsComment