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Schools need freedom to make our kids intelligent

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

In the late 1990s Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist working at Harvard University, broke intelligence into eight areas: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Even though many psychologists disagree with Gardner’s views on intelligence, the categories he created provide a good base for the abilities people need in the modern workplace.

It is nearly impossible for someone to succeed if he/she is only intelligent in one area. Artistic products require technical and financial support and the most technical products require beauty and a strong user interface. It is pointless for a scientist to conduct amazing research unless he/she can effectively communicate his/her findings to his/her colleagues; and it makes no sense for a musician to create beautiful songs, unless he/she can execute successful contracts so the songs make him/her money.

In short, all kids need strong visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal abilities. Sadly, few children graduate from high school with strong abilities in all these areas. Perhaps it is because we have tasked our K-12 schools with so many things (teaching, coaching, parenting, counseling, etc.) that it is impossible for them to succeed.

Maybe we should encourage schools to return to their primary mission. Then they can focus all their energies on maximizing visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, and logical-mathematical intelligence.

This limited focus would give schools time to rethink their approach to building intelligence and encourage them to find ways of identifying learning gaps early. They would have time to implement third party curriculum based testing (teachers have not seen the test ahead of time) at least once a quarter. Then teachers could identify deficiencies within a few weeks of when a student has missed a concept and could take corrective action quickly,

Some people worry that returning the focus of K-12 schools to academic areas would impact students’ interpersonal and intrapersonal development. In fact, the opposite might be true. Instead of relying on schools to offer sports, leadership, and other pursuits, schools could contract with community organizations to handle these activities. These organizations have lower overhead, so they could offer these activities at a fraction of the cost. Best of all, the students would have a wider range of options available to them.

Technology has changed the world. Now it is time for us to set aside preconceived ideas and think about how we can change education to prepare children for this new world.

Building a Bridge from 21st Century Learners to 21st Century Earners

Ed Surge – Sajan George

“Millennials are expected to change jobs or employers four times in their first ten years after college graduation. By age 40, they’ll likely have shown up for work with between 10 and 15 employers. This means that our future workforce should expect to have seasons of work, non-work, as well as periods of looking for work in between.”(more)

Illinois schools experiment with competency-based education model

Education Dive – Autumn A. Arnett

“Competency-based education is seeing growth in adult education programs as a way to help graduate more marketable future employees, and now the trend seems to be headed for the K-12 sector as well. The push toward mastery vs. time-in-class should help promote students who are better prepared for life after high school. Many of the adaptive competencies emphasized are the same as the ones employers say today’s workers are lacking, and making the development of these “soft skills” a mandatory part of their education should help close the gap.”(more)

Competency-Based Learning for Teachers

Education Next – Michael B. Horn and Thomas Arnett

“Remember merit badges? The reward for kids who master new skills has been rebooted—for their teachers. So-called “micro-credentials” work a lot like scouting badges. Teachers complete a specific activity to develop a critical competency for their role, and earn a micro-credential based on showing mastery of the skill. They can collect micro-credentials to document growing expertise and share their accomplishments in the classroom. This targeted training is in stark contrast to traditional, strikingly ineffective teacher professional development (PD). With its focus on seat time—awarding credit for showing up to workshops, conferences, or classes—formal PD has ignored whether teachers actually learn new skills, apply them, and improve student outcomes. And with its reliance on generalized, off-the-shelf programs, most formal PD does not target the specific skills or expertise an individual teacher may need to improve her practice.”(more)

5 critical considerations for CBE and CBL implementation

E-School News – Dr. Deborah Everhart

“As schools begin to invest in competency-based education (CBE) and higher ed institutions set up competency-based programs, two of the big questions often unanswered become “is their focus on education or on learning?” And “what’s the difference?” Educators can argue that the characteristics of CBE call for increased attention to learning: clearly defined competencies, flexible time structures for competency mastery, and teacher and faculty roles for mentoring learners, to name a few.”(more)

Touted as the next big solution, competency ed programs that stress skills aren’t always a ‘quick and easy moneymaker,’ study finds

The Hechinger Report – Rick Staisloff and Donna Desrochers

“Concerns about the quality and price of traditional academic programs in higher education have generated interest in competency-based programs that allow students to learn at their own pace, with up to 600 institutions now interested in developing, building or offering these new programs. These new programs offer potential for colleges and universities to set clearer expectations about what students must know, understand and be able to do to earn degrees in specific disciplines or majors — at a lower cost than for traditional degrees.”(more)