By Catherine Malcolm
While core values has guided the educational curriculum and testing protocols in this country, world stats continue to show that it doesn’t work.
“U.S. students, who once led the world, currently rank 21st in the world in science and 25th in math,” Newsweek reported in 2011.
Core Values is a hot topic in parenting and teaching circles. Everyone wants what’s best for their little budding brainiac. But does it work? Many, like Sir Ken Robinson (acclaimed educationalist) and most of the best private schools in the world don’t think so.
Not only is the Core Value initiative an old model based on an old paradigm of teaching, production line education at its best produces conformity. But when the first authors designed our our current system, conformity in society was what everyone wanted. “Follow the leader!” And we did. The handful of creative thinkers who dared to step outside of the box became pioneering entrepreneurs. And we followed. While knowing how to get along with the group is as necessary as learning one’s ABC’s, that kind of teaching fails us when we try to stand out or even stand up to the new global dynamic.
The major problem with the CORE VALUE argument is what it leaves out. The arts are not extra-curricular, they are essential educational experiences that nurture true visceral relationships between the student and his/her curriculum. It helps to foster divergent and critical thinking whereas our current standard core promotes conformity. Our schools should not be factories with children on an assembly-line toward jobs that no longer exist. To compete in the 21st century, with technology, social media and communication at it’s most powerful in the history of our world, we must create a new educational paradigm. One that embraces the arts and its ability to nurture divergent thinking. A curriculum that uses the tools that we have at our disposal, tools that the authors of our old educational system couldn’t have imagined. We need teachers who are supported for their ability to nurture critical thinking and creativity, and a support system to allow those possibilities to grow.
Sir Robinson said of education, “Teachers will tell you, ‘don’t copy!’ – it’s cheating. But when you leave school, it’s called collaboration.”
A study published in the book Break Point & Beyond illustrates the need for change in our current educational system. A longitudinal study tested children for “Divergent Thinking” (the ability to think critically and creatively about a problem).
The first group showed a remarkable 80% scoring at the GENIUS level. How old were they? Kindergarten level. These same children were tested 5 years later. The same children. The same test. The genius level scores dropped to 50%. Five years following…down to 15%. While the educational system cannot be laid blame for all of the decline, it certainly can’t be left outside the margins of cause and effect.
In the last 5 years, with the rise of mobile communications and “smart phones” there is a growing trend for parents to share time with their children on apps, some of which are labeled “educational.” Even some “entertainment” apps have shown to encourage a child’s intellectual and creative growth. While apps for children, especially in the educational market is the fastest growing segment in this market, there’s a lot out there that are simply cheap product.
The growth of good, high quality apps that help to support what schools are doing, and better yet, NOT doing, is small. App development is expensive and labor intensive, while many apps released are either free or cost less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Less than a cup of coffee. Imagine that for a moment. You’ve just experienced divergent thinking. Now imagine what a good app could do for your child…or maybe even you.
Here’s an excerpt of Sir Ken Robinson’s discussion of our current educational crisis and what he believes are key points of inquiry.
About the Author
Catherine Malcolm is co-founder of FeeFiFoFun, an emerging children’s entertainment and publishing company that seeks to break through the barriers facing children’s education to give parents and their kids an alternative, or at least complementary support to curriculum enrichment. Our mission is to foster arts, creativity and critical thinking in children of all ages. Like them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FeeFiFoFunz.
Used with permission from StayTooned.com