Time for change

Posted: December 13, 2011 in education rants
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Today another round of budget cuts for education in California was announced. There are cuts for both k-12 and higher ed. Included will be another $10/unit increase for community college students. This is nearly a 100% increase over the last several years, while cutting classes, and adding restrictions.

Now is the time for change. The current system is being smothered by bureaucracy and increased cost in the name of progress. The problem is that the situation is not improving. There are many people including teachers and administrators working to make changes. At the same time there are individuals and organization’s looking out for their own interests. Not the interests of students.

In reorganizing my classes I freed up time that had been used for grading. Instead of being able to use that time to create educational materials or read student blogs I was forced to work on paperwork to be sent to someone who has no idea what I teach. This ended up causing me not to be as dynamic or prepared for some classes as I would have liked to have been.

increasing oversight and documentation paperwork is not the method that will increase learning for students. What ends up happening is faculty spend more time trying to justify changes that need to be made, filling out paperwork, or sitting in meetings than working on course materials.

This may be the nudge needed to kickstart new methods of recognizing skills learned places other than formal schools. I have a student who needs a computer class to graduate, even though he is very competent. He is one of a very few students who have pushed me to learn more to stay ahead of them. If he is pushing me on parametric modeling software; he can no doubt use MS office. All the classes are full, and they don’t offer credit by exam for that class.

What should be done? I think the first step is businesses acknowledging that a college degree is not the only measure of knowledge or skills. This has been accepted for k-12 in the form of homeschooling. Once this happens discussions can take place to determine what they will accept as evidence. Do they want portfolios? What about badges? Next we need to figure out how students need to change to take advantage of options that become available.

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