The USS Quad Damage

Fixing schools

The buildings are done, time to get the education revolving...

Kids have to manage their time to organise these activities and display results.

It seems Labor got lost while Building the Education Revolution on the “Building” portion, and neither “Education” nor “Revolution” seems to have gotten much attention. Luckily, I am all about the latter two, so I’m going to go solve this problem for them!

First, schools are ineffective, because of the things they are trying to achieve. Currently, schools exist to teach students, grade them on a single axis against each other, and (potentially) use these same scores to grade the teachers. There is a huge downside to this — none of it works. One number does not accurately represent a person. A teacher cannot be similarly judged on how well his students do (nor on how much her students improve, since the metrics the students are being judged on are weak). Also, learning something according to a schedule is incredibly ineffective.

Here is my education revolution:

Get rid of the UAI. If universities complain tell them they’re full of smart people, and to figure out how to rate kids. Change year 11 and 12 to be “thesis years” where kids figure something (anything) out or do something cool.

On metrics, measure things on three axes: communications, imagination, and problem solving. The nice thing about that is that measuring it isn’t clear, and no one would seriously look at a number against “imagination” and believe that it really amounts to the student’s imagination. Any metric would need to be well thought out. On report cards, teachers would put stories (i.e. anecdotes) against these “metrics”. Something interesting that happened during the term which was related to this metric (e.g. “everyone came up with solution X but Johnny tried to do Y instead”).

Since kids socialise, and we’re pretty much not measuring them any more, add many more group activities. Assignments should be 5-man, 10-man or maybe even 100-man assignments, to see (and have kids learn) how to form cohesive groups. These can be 1-day activities, or may last a short while over a year. Kids have to manage their time to organise these activities and display results.

Subjects should be split up into “story arcs” where, for example, kids might trace the history of Captain Cook in detail, and even visit places where he went. So, instead of learning something one term, and having a disparate second term, you learn something over the course of a few years and get long term neurons for that information. This could well take a year or more. Other “subjects” would be taken remotely during this time. For example, art projects could be created on the trip and sent back — inspired by the Cook trip and using relevant materials.

You could have an arc where you design and build a bunch of furniture, where you go from art and design to maths and geometry, through to wood-work and metal-work and end with a finished product. Kids may even market and set up a business through these story arcs. A “subject” would translate to a “story point” or “story beat” where the teacher really facilitates all of these problems with solutions. That is, kids want to, for example in economics, start a business for various things they’ve built, and the teacher will have lessons designed to teach them about how to achieve that. Students might go to an Art teacher to ask about a computer program or video game they’re working on.

Shift primary school to end at year 3 or 4. Make primary school about smaller, simpler goals, and high school about more audacious ones. No story arcs in primary school, but little stories which hint at the unknown — something greater.

I reckon with this sort of education revolution we’ll end up with brighter, happier kids who actually enjoy school. That’s a real education revolution.