Something students seem to understand intuitively is that schools are not preparing them for the modern economy. While many educators see technology as the main culprit to students not paying attention in classrooms, it is actually the fault of the curriculum for not keeping up.
School curriculums are still heavily skewed to its industrial education approach. According to Allison Schrager, at Quartz:” Factory owners required docile, agreeable workers who would show up on time and do what their managers told them. Sitting in a classroom all day with a teacher was good training for that. ”
But the needs of the business community have shifted with the economy. Same with the needs of students. The rise of the service industry has revolutionized the skills a modern workforce requires. From fast-food workers to IT professionals, the service economy needs smart, creative, and collaborative workers.
As students find curricula more disconnected from their social and economic lives, they will continue to pay little attention in school. To boost educational outcomes, new curricula based on the actual job market and social world are needed. Educators that embrace a new education for the new economy will find students much more amenable to learning.
Outdated Curriculum Needs An Upgrade
Students are disinterested in school because their curriculums fail to meet their lived realities in the twenty-first century. Curriculums should aim to teach students skills that are valuable in the service economy, and are inclined to self-development.
At the centre of both these goals is critical thinking. A skill that is instrumental in the modern knowledge economy, critical thinking can also help develop strong personal traits, like self-confidence and responsibility. One method that can improve critical thinking is reverse engineering.
Reverse engineering in classrooms consists of changing teaching methods by rearranging learning objectives, roles, and activities, including physical spaces. A framework to increase student goals, the design of curriculum, and classrooms should be very deliberate. One technique that uses reverse engineering is flipped teaching.
Flipped teaching, or the flipped classroom, is a theory from Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, it involves reversing roles of different tasks and applications of school curriculums. In one example, students would watch a video for homework the night before class, then come in to share a discussion about the video.
In that scenario, students can prepare for discussion, after watching the video the night before and engage with other students in the class. This is opposed to the heterodox method, which often asks students to watch the video in class and discuss it through homework or in class. By reversing the roles in classrooms, the method favors self-learning, a necessary step for critical thinking skills.
Even though teachers have known for years about the benefits of critical thinking, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, found students lacked the ability to think critically. Often an afterthought in a curriculum that expects rote memorization, embracing critical thinking, and other life-enhancing skills can pull the curriculum from its 300-year sleep.
The skills we have mentioned above, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity, still require a high level of language and comprehension. Current curriculums concentrated on reading and writing are not defunct but require a much-needed technological boost to reach students, especially those with neuroatypical tendencies like dyslexia and ADHD.
Today there are a host of e-learning platforms that work to engage all types of students. One of these new digital game platforms is Zoko Write, a letter tracing game designed to help students learn how to recognize and write uppercase letters and practice their hand-eye coordination. Improving necessary language skills, these games build confidence in students to continue to learn and critically assess their environment.
Other games like Minecraft are massively popular with students and give players the ability to make different items using natural resources. With cooperative modes and an open world concept, students are given the virtual space to mold and create a world as they want. Within the limits of the game, students can build to their content.
To really give kids a modern education computer science should be part of the K-12 curriculum for students to keep up with today’s economy. Groups like code.org are already dedicated to teaching coding as a core curriculum, and partner with schools and organizations across the United States.
By giving students the tools to control their digital sandboxes, teachers empower students to have a more hands-on approach to their own education. Along with critical thinking, students can better engage with reading, writing, and arithmetic. Through relevant coursework, students can prepare for their adult lives, and be engaged doing it.