Like I said at the beginning of this post series, Most Likely to Succeed points out many concerns with the current educational system that I agree with, and proposes some of the best solutions I’ve seen to correct these problems.
Children hate school and doing well in school doesn’t necessarily lead to success; school doesn’t have to be this way and is not teaching our children skills for the jobs that will be available to them, ones that can’t be replaced by machines. Our current educational system was designed over a hundred years ago for a vastly different world and is going to have to change to keep up with the world.
We are stuck with the old system right now, simply because adults are afraid to make some tough choices because we are all too afraid of failure. The irony is that we are taking known risks with our children’s health from sleep deprivation, simply because we are afraid of change. One alternative to classroom lecture based learning is a type of project based learning used at schools like High Tech High. But to implement techniques like this, and really change our schools, I think we are going to have to change how we think about grades, change how we assign and teach group projects, and cut the curriculum.
But changing our schools is imperative! We can not continue on our current path.
Students are suffering now and universities are already seeing drastic changes in the mental health of college students, especially an increase in anxiety. While there are several reasons that can contribute to this, research has shown that sleep deprivation can re-wire the brain. (As you can tell from the date on some of the linked articles, this is not a new problem nor is it new research that shows how lack of sleep damages the brain. And yet we let this continue!) And it is known that students are feeling the pressures that cause their mental health issues before they get to college.
The worst part about the way our schools are currently structured is it hurts the best students the most. Our most driven, most intelligent, most dedicated, and most honest students suffer the most in a school system as they struggle meet the demands and excel in an environment that requires unreasonably long hours of homework (to cover the curriculum) in an attempt to get into a “good college.”
While some suggest that the low and under-employment rate is caused by slow recovery from the recession, employers complain that recent graduates have trouble problem solving and making decisions. These are some of the very qualities Most Likely to Succeed puts forward as not being developed by our antiquated education system. Currently, many potential employers place more importance on an internship, not where a recent graduate went to school or how they did as a student.
My hope is that if we can change the ways schools are structured, cut the curriculum, cut homework, and de-emphasize grades, then we can give our children what they need to become productive creative individuals, and at the same time increase the amount of sleep our kids are getting, and preserve their mental health.
Want to learn more about Most Likely to Succeed?
Currently, Most Likely to Succeed is only being shown at a limited number of community screenings – many of which are open to the public. You can find out if there is a screening in your area of Most Likely to Succeed.
Of course, you can also read the book, Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith,
Watch this video, an interview done at Sundance, to hear a good over-view of the film, see excerpts of Most Likely to Succeed and a discussion about the film and education concepts with the director, Greg Whiteley, and the executive producer, Ted Dintersmith.
This next interview isn’t as dynamic since it doesn’t show clips of the documentary, but does a particularly good job of doing an over-view of the film. The thing I love most about it, is it shows how Greg Whiteley, after being recruited by Ted Dintersmith to be the director of the film, came to a new understanding of the difficulties his daughter was having in school. Dintersmith made a believer out of Whitely!
To read about an alternate approach to project based learning, read or listen to this article on NPR about the “active learning method” used by a Physics Nobel Laureate to teach in his classes, A Nobel Laureate’s Education Plea: Revolutionize Teaching.
And you can read more about Most Likely to Succeed:
Not Bill Gates: Meet Ted Dintersmith, an education philanthropist with a different agenda – an interview with Ted Dintersmith
Sunday Book Review:’Most Likely to Succeed,’ by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith – a review of the book that mostly misses the point of the book, but it does call attention to some hurdles that will need to be addressed if you try to overhaul something as broad as the public educations system, not just a private or magnet school.
More articles in this series and review of Most Likely to Succeed
- Most Likely to Succeed Documentary Review and Discussion – Part 1/11
- I hate school – Most Likely to Succeed, Part 2/11 Does your kid hate school? Do kids they really hate it because they have to work hard and they are lazy, or is there another reason?
- How important is doing well in school to success? – Most Likely to Succeed Part 3/11 Have you told your kid that it’s for important so they can get a good job? How important is doing well in school to success?
- We don’t need human calculators, so why are we training them? – Most Likely to Succeed, Part 4/11 Our education system was designed to train workers for jobs that are being replaced by machines. It’s outdated.
- Fear of Failure in Education – Most Likely to Succeed Part 5/11 Schools are as much afraid of failing the test as students are, in spite of it not being a guarantee of success.
- High Tech High – Most Likely to Succeed Part 6/11 In search of a new model for teaching, an alternative to memorizing facts and to regurgitate them on tests – High Tech High.
- Project Based Learning – Most Likely to Succeed Part 7/11 Most Likely to Succeed presents the best solution I’ve seen to the problems of run-away tests and hours of homework – project based learning.
- Grades – What are they for? Most Likely to Succeed Part 8/11 What do student grades mean? Are they a measure for improving learning? Or a way to rank kids against each other so we can identify the “best” kids?
- The problems with group projects – Most Likely to Succeed Part 9/11 For group projects like those portrayed at High Tech High in Most Likely to Succeed, schools will have to structure, teach and grade projects differently.
- Cut the School Curriculum – Most Likely to Succeed Part 10/11 To change learning to be more in-depth the way it is presented in Most Likely to Succeed, we’re going to have to cut the school curriculum.
- Most Likely to Succeed – Learn more Part 11/11 Change the antiquated structure of education to prepare students for jobs and create happier, healthier, more creative individuals.