Game Theory, Individual v. Collective, Live and Learn

Creative Teaching Models from the 19th Century

Defenders of the status quo in education always talk about their lack of funding. Is that the problem? I doubt it:

And compared to other countries?

One of the problems with education is it’s a one-size-fits-all with a top down curriculum set, more or less, by a federal agency to be used on every child in a country of 310 million people.

There are some private exceptions. One interesting example are Montessori schools, which Wikipedia describes as follows:

Montessori education is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development, as well as technological advancements in society. Although a range of practices exists under the name “Montessori”, the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS) cite these elements as essential:

    • Mixed age classrooms, with classrooms for children aged 2½ or 3 to 6 years old by far the most common
    • Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options
    • Uninterrupted blocks of work time
    • A Constructivism or “discovery” model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction
    • Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators
I like this approach given it teaches independence instead of conformity, which I’m afraid most of our public schools do. Another idea would be to look to the past. One of the most interesting I’ve come across are the Lancaster Schools, founded by Joseph Lancaster in the early part of the 19th century. As LocalHistory.org describes them as follows:

At the beginning of the 19th century a man named Joseph Lancaster (1778-1838) invented a new method of educating the working class. In the Lancaster system the most able pupils were made monitors and they were put in charge of other pupils. The monitors were taught early in the day before the other children arrived. When they did the monitors taught them.

It’s said the best way to learn is to teach. So having the older students teach the younger students gives the older students a better understanding of the subject matters as well as more face time with the teachers. Is this a great system? It certainly seems to have a ring of brilliance to it. And it’s that type of creativity that is suffocated by the one-size-fits-all model of our current public education system.

Photo Credit: Reason.com and PmCaregivers.com

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