Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kick'n it new skool!

On my way to work this week I caught Michael Krasny and pals bitching about the horrible state of California schools. They're right. The schools suck. I'll go one step further and say school sucks. We dump a ton of money in this system that was fine for Laura Engles, but makes little sense in today's topsy turvy world. When I am king the focus will be taken off of making schools better and on to making education better.

Think about it. What do you remember from school? Yeah, it was pretty good at teaching you how to read, do basic math and getting made fun of, but after that... do most people get anything out of it? I've learned more about history from The History channel than I ever did in a class room. I'm currently taking a class in Flash Actionscripting and I've come way farther than anything that was taught to me at a good public university. The only reason I know what a bill is comes from a Saturday morning cartoon about our country's law making process. Most of what I learned about physics comes from Peter Ustinov and guys riding around blue and red motorcycles. It's a sad fact but I remember more about what happened in Gabe Kotter's classroom than what actually happened to me in a classroom.

I don't think I'm unique. I bet I'm in the majority. They say TV rots your brain, but does it have to? Why can't it enhance your brain? Sure it taught me some things that didn't actually pan out, like beared men who wear black Members Only jackets are the evil twin of a good person, but it taught me tons of great stuff too, like how a guy could get hauled to this continent against his will and forced into slavery would eventually teach children the joys of reading and piloting a starship. Using that as an example, surely we could sneak in some world history into an episode of Thundercats. (that's still on... right?) We know television mesmerizes kids, why are we using it to tell them they like Captain Crunch and not a little something about the French Revolution? Hell we could kill two birds with one stone and just have Captain Crunch tell how he recaptured the HMS Alexander in 1778?

That brings up another point. I didn't now about the HMS Alexander or the date it was captured by the French, but I looked it up on Wikipedia. It's only a matter of time before Wikipedia access will be implanted in your head at birth. Let's get on that. We don't need to be so critical on the specific dates and names but we should focus more on eras and why things happened. How it effected people at the time and how it effects people now. Have I retained a single date that I learned in school? Nope, like everyone else I learned it for a test and then purged it. Information is no longer a commodity thanks to the internet. Let's shift the focus off teaching information and more on learning what to do with information when you get it. Let's get kids to learn how to think.

Another thing I've mentioned is this silly idea of free school. No one really benefits from something that's free. Ultimately they just resent it like government cheese. I'm thinking that after 8th grade if you want to go to high school you'll have to pay for it. It'll be much cheaper because the people who are going to end up putting up sheet rock or selling car stereos can just get right to it. Why are we forcing algebra on people? If we make it special people will appreciate it more and they'll work to get it if they want it. Because it'll be privatized you can always decide after a couple of years of filling pot holes to go back and see about that high school deploma. You'll do better because you'll have real world motivation.

Anyway, I could go on and on about how to fix schools... like my idea of giving weaker kids TASERS and the nerdiest kids b-b guns to even the playing field against bullies, but before we can work on that, we've got to get the basics right. My number one priorty is trying to figure out how Fred Flintstone can do a better job telling the story of early man... WILMA!

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