Seth Godin sums up many of the issues I have addressed on education in recent posts. Since he is more eloquent than I, I have included his TedTalk here.
Of course, the system he addresses is that of the United States, but here in Canada, and also in other parts of the world, there are many features that are similar and need to be addressed.
One thing he speaks about is the "Flipped Classroom". The backlash against this concept is astounding to me, but I think that there are some other things going on here that have contributed.
For one thing, it assumes internet access. While most people have this, there are still many who do not, and this can put those students at a further disadvantage.
I have seen so-called "flipped classrooms" where the teacher watches the students all watch the same lecture. For this, I'm not even sure where to start! Certainly this is a huge waste of time and resources. The lectures and resources are supposed to happen away from the teacher; the discussion and application are what the teacher and class are there for during the classroom time.
I also wonder how this can be used in classrooms that are deemed "inclusive" and in which the abilities and needs of the students are extremely diverse. I would argue that both interest and ability groupings may be the most effective way to encourage all students to reach their potential.
People have criticized Sal Khan for not being a complete resource unto himself. That is as ridiculous as saying that a research paper with only a single source is complete. Life doesn't work that way. Students need to learn to consult varied resources and to consider biases and limitations within those sources as part of learning critical thinking. Khan Academy, TedTalks, MIT Courseware, PI Lectures, and a multitude of other online lectures are now available, as are websites, internet chats, email, and yes, even textbooks. There is no need for a teacher to present this at a single speed to a classroom of students. Where the value of a teacher lies is in generating discussion, and encouraging students to delve deeply and ask questions, to think of things in different ways, make connections and apply these concepts in new ways. Round-robin reading of a textbook is no more than a way to fill in time. Wasting the time of our students is quite possibly the most disrespectful thing we can do as teachers.
I do disagree though that there is no place for textbooks in exciting students to learn. I do think though that they should be treated as reference materials rather than the main or sole source of information, just as we might consult a dictionary on occasion but are unlikely to sit down and read it cover-to-cover.
What are your thoughts on flipped classrooms, and education in general?