The future of public education is quite grim. In all honesty it looks like a nightmare from my perspective.
Some things never change, but when I graduated high school (2009) there were several strange similarities with today’s world of education that shouldn’t exist. For one, there is the constant reduction of public school budgets and the cutting of higher education support from state governments. This has a been a steady trend for as long as I’ve paid attention to it and things don’t seem to be changing.
Higher tuition costs, higher drop-out rates for high school students, crime remains steady if not increasing for the youth bracket of society, student loan debt over 1 trillion, the devaluation of the college degree, the devaluation of salaries and good-paying jobs, permanent school closings and an overall lack of hope and interest in the future with the youth generation.
And that’s just one topic of discussion.
There are several other areas of interest that we could carefully dissect: the lack of interest in school among young people, the trailing effort of technology in less-funded schools, the low quality of teachers, the low quality of the home environment, the curriculum being taught in schools, etc.
The list goes on and on and on.
But the point I’d like to try to get across is the fact that the future of education needs to–and will inevitably will–change. Not this second, or this year or this decade, but soon.
What kinds of changes you ask?
Well I have a few ideas I’d like to share that might make this post a bit more understandable. Two of the three ideas I propose are not original creations of my own but simple expansions of previous inventions that can help streamline education and bring humanity to a new apex. The first of which is called Data Input and Sensory Adaption Teaching (DISAT).
DISAT is designed to make use of the human brain’s ability to process information at both a conscious and subconscious level. One example of this is a story from my college days that seemed to be revolutionary at the time I discovered it, until of course my professor mentioned the counter example of what I did and completely shot my theory all to hell. Here it is:
During the final year of my junior year I was in the process of finishing my German foreign language requirement. I loved the language but hated the studying, particular the endless stream of vocab terms that pummeled my study habits every other work.
During one long and endless week of reading, writing and more writing, I decided that I would experiment with my laptop and try something that I thought might invigorate my lack of interest in studying German vocab terms. With the microphone on my laptop I read the twenty-something new vocab terms to myself in German, then their definitions, in what might possibly be the best version of my monotone voice that I’ve ever done. I then took the sample of the vocab reading (which I recorded in an mp3 converting software) and sent it to my Itunes library. I then took the mp3 and transferred it to my Ipod.
Gutes arbeit, ja?
Well, that night–and the rest of the nights leading up to the quiz–I played that stupid, dull-voiced recording of myself reading out the vocab terms, on repeat, throughout the night and into the morning. I did this for what accounted to be six nights, and it worked wonders for my grade on the quiz: 25/25.
I was so ho-hummed and delighted over myself that I couldn’t help but tell my professor after class (that’s when he passed the papers back) about the new study method I stumbled upon. He then preceded to tell of his days as a young German student and how he was able to remember the weekly vocabulary terms.
“Singing in the shower.”
Apparently there truly is more than one way to skin a cat, and it turns out that both methods aren’t so far apart on the similarity spectrum. Instead of using subconscious repetition, my professor used conscious vocal repetition to implant into his head the very important material that he needed to learn. Well that’s nice and all but for the purposes of this post, I’m gonna give full credit to my method (not that the conscious method is bad or useless or anything of that sort).
Remember our little creation, DISAT? Well, that’s just what my story deals with. Like my German vocab, DISAT would act as a reinforcement teaching technique (or a primary teaching technique, depending on the subject matter) that would utilize the subconscious processing of information that occurs during sleep.
Imagine dreaming in algebraic functions (of course dreams like those might be nightmares for many people).
Still, the process of using sleep time as teaching time can greatly help any student in their developmental process. To me it makes sense, since every student nowadays has an mp3 player or some sort of device that can play an mp3 file. So imagine having a teacher distribute an mp3 file containing their voice (or the dull voice of a company-paid actor hired to teach math through the mp3 file). The student listens to it, then comes to school the next day with the subconscious imprint of yesterday’s lesson. They go to take a test or quiz or fill out a worksheet and BAM!: they somehow, know how, to do it!
These files already exist in some shape or form, but the second part of DISAT is where students use touch screens (mini black boards) to follow along with the lesson plan being taught. This could be especially helpful for math courses.
The technology and method for this is already there and in use, but having students follow along visually, digitally (with their digits) and orally (repeating it to themselves or along with the teacher) is the sensory part of the teaching. Utilizing the senses to create a repetitive imprint in the brain, followed by a subconscious reinforcement to the conscious teaching would allow for the best possible outcome of any student’s learning process. Gone should be the days where watching your teacher scribble on the board is the common form of learning.
Remember the best teachers you had? They got you engaged in what you were learning. What could be more engaging that incorporating the all the senses in your learning process?
Another great thing about DISAT is that it allows for students who have little–if not any–time after they get home from after-school activities to engage in their subjects without a great deal of effort or time. Lulling yourself to sleep to basic quadratic functions after a long basketball game would work wonders.
We also have to consider the possible future developments that could evolve from DISAT. Imprinting data files into the brain via a USB-type connection (wired into the brain stem) would eventually replace the obsolete method of mp3 integration into night-time sleep. Humans would become a walking computer capable of downloading information into their brains either at a price or at birth.
If you’ve seen the movie The Matrix then you’ll remember the training of Neo. It’s commercialized education on a biological and subconscious scale. Both fascinating and ultimately unavoidable in the long term if you ask me.
That of course is just one method of teaching that I believe should be (or could be) utilized in the future. There are two others that I will discuss in this post, both of which are already being used: Youtube and targeted teaching.
Anyone can teach themselves via Youtube today. Try it now and give yourselves a rest from this post: go to Youtube and search for any subject that you can think of, be it quantum mechanics or the alphabet. Whatever you’re looking to learn, it’s there, and chances are the video is just as good–if not better–than the actual teacher in the classroom.
However, teachers are already making use of this tool and I can imagine that, to some extent, it works as a solid reinforcement tool to the related subject material. Visual learning is very poplar and highly useful for many subjects, so there’s a natural draw to it. I know several professors also use the website to upload their lectures and I think it’s a great idea as well.
But try to imagine a world where a Youtube-type website (or Youtube itself) is the primary teaching mechanism for all young people. No schools, no books, no classrooms. Everything self taught and (perhaps) reinforced by the parents or a private tutor. Sound like a possible future?
The last target and potential future from this post is selective teaching. We might know this better as trade schools.
Selective teaching seeks to identify and isolate the subject matters that students are most inclined to learn and study for their careers in life. This is identified at a young age by way of genetics and structured testing and observation over a period of several years. By the time high school rolls along, students should have a concrete understanding of what they want to do with their life. The remaining four years of pre-college schooling are then devoted to this subject area.
This process assumes that public schooling will survive and adapt through the decades ahead, which is an assumption that could prove as nothing more than a silly proposition.
It also leads into the closing statements from this post, and that is the evolution of education over the centuries. Starting with antiquity and the Ancient Greek civilization (as I like to do often), education has seen changes that have been both for the better and for the worse.
Like the process of selective teaching, the ancients often had their citizens focus on a primary area (artisans or merchants) that benefited the community as a whole. Your education was your craft, whether it was pottery, metallurgy or soldiering. As the sciences came to life, education changed to focus on a more fluent study of what elders deemed “necessary” for a well-rounded education.
Of course the ancients had scientific discoveries of their own, but their work was often grouped in what was deemed philosophical notions rather than scientific thought or truth.
Now, states and federal establishments decide what needs to be taught and how much money is dedicated to the learning of it. This leads to the level of one’s education coming from how much is dedicated to the annual budget. Very little is improved but everything is kept in the barren state of what is deemed allowable in that particular region that you find yourself and your child in. As a result there is very little fluidity in the realm of education in the United States today, and the overall future for public education is dim at best because of such a lack of proper structuring.
Personally, my own money is on commercialized data incorporation where people eventually pay for–or steal–knowledge in order to better their lives. Knowledge in the information age is indeed king, but the reign of this particular king has yet to see its throne. Be wary when he takes control.