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A closer look at modern education in a post-modern age December 13, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education.

The Intangible Economy refers us to a Time Magazine cover article (UPDATED: You’ll have to sit through an advertisement to read…sigh…) called “How to bring out schools out of the 20th century.” It’s very good stuff that follows up on Time’s outstanding “Dropout Nation” article. I also appreciate that Tim not only points out shortcomings but offers examples of solutions in their complementary, “Building a new student in Michigan:”

For three months last fall a task force of [Michigan] state education officials, school superintendents, college deans and a Ford Motor Company executive pored over scholarly research on curriculum reform, borrowed ideas from private schools with strong college preparatory curricula and International Baccalaureate programs that infuse instruction with a global perspective. The panel also studied the education policies in countries such as Singapore, whose students routinely ace international proficiency exams. And the group consulted education chiefs from states that were early adopters of tougher standards, including Indiana, Oregon and Arkansas—all of which require four years of English and at least three years of math and science.

The goal was to craft rigorous learning standards that would give students the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and in the 21st century workplace. The group recommended that every Michigan student, whether college-bound or not, be required to complete four years of English and math; three years of science and social studies; two years of foreign language; one year of phys ed; one in a course covering visual, performing or applied arts, as well as an online course—not necessarily for credit—offered by Michigan’s web-based Virtual High School or another Internet instruction provider that meets state guidelines. As juniors, they should also take the state merit exam that, like the ACT, measures college readiness.

Meanwhile, the state board of education wanted to see elective classes that expose them to diverse cultures and international issues; explore the rights and obligations of citizenship; teach finance and business principles in depth; and challenge them to access, analyze and use information from multimedia sources. The coursework, state officials recommended, should also improve critical-thinking, problem-solving and communication abilities through team projects. Last spring the legislature overwhelmingly approved the new graduation rules—all of which take effect with next fall’s freshman class. “They are among the most rigorous requirements in the country,” says Michael Cohen, president of the nonprofit education think tank Achieve Inc. Some forward-thinking schools have already begun to incorporate the new approach.

As an aside to the main Time article: When the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce final report is released, you can find it here.



1. Ken Jarboe - December 14, 2006

You can read the TIME cover story if you are willing to watch an ad. (Oh yes, the old advertising business model)

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