United States of Disengaged Students?

 

The map above strikes me as disturbing.

If you think about it, according to this map, we (as a system) are failing 25% of our K-12 grade children.

This is what the numbers say, but if you were to dig deeper, how many students are passing with C averages? B averages? Students with C and B averages are passing, but only understanding 75% to 85% of what they are supposed to know. Is that efficacy in teaching and learning? How do we measure whether kids are actually absorbing what we teach them? Why are students not excelling in school?

My argument for transforming our current educational environments into Immersive Learningscapes is based on two areas: the current educational statistics within the United States, and what teachers and students have to say about education today.

If you look at both sides of these statistics, from students and teachers, you’ll find surprisingly similar reasons why our dropout rate is so high.

Let’s first take a look at the students:

 

 In a survey of 15,000 students carried out by Marc Pensky for Edutopia, and published in the article The 21st Century Digital Learner, these were common responses by many of the students:

In another article in The Alliance for Excellent Education, a survey of high school drop-outs provided comments that can be summarized as shown below:

It would be naïve to think that learning spaces alone could tackle these challenges, as the issues affecting our education system are much larger than that: socio-economic challenges, policy, financial woes, etc…. Nevertheless, by looking at these two surveys and placing ourselves in the student’s shoes, we see issues that are solvable:

1. increase the engagement of students in their learning process

2. provide a larger relevance of their studies to their future life

3. create a more customized education for each student

4. provide a curriculum that reflects 21st century life

It would be unfair to just look at students’ point of views without also asking teachers their opinion.

In a survey conducted by Scholastic Magazine, 40,000 teachers, at every level, and across the United States, voiced their opinion about the status of education today. Here is a summary of their answers:

In a way, teachers are saying exactly the same things that students are saying:

1. Lack of engagement in the classroom is the main reason why students are not prepared for college, and why they are uninterested in their learning (and hence dropping-off in certain cases)

2. Making students understand how something learned today is applicable to their life in the future (think applied knowledge)

3. Customizing instruction to each student is essential so that they can learn at their own rhythm, and time, given their abilities, and with the appropriate methodology

4. Providing experiences that support 21st century skills are essential to excel in an interconnected global world

Learning environments, supported by an appropriate methodology, tactical use of technology, and a 21st century curriculum, could easily help provide solutions that would tackle each of these challenges. In future posts I will look at ways in which an Immersive Learningscape addresses these challenges and rethinks the relationship between learning, space, time, and technology.

More pressingly though, in my next post, I will exhibit how a global and highly competitive world will place more and more stress and competition on our kids, exacerbating our educational system’s challenges and forcing us to adopt change faster . We’ll look at what other countries are doing, and how some key schools are providing highly creative, collaborative and active learning environments that really work.

October 1st, 2012 | Live & Learn

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