Maybe you have already heard the buzz about Seth Godin's massive education-reform manifesto. Maybe you haven't. Either way, you really ought to read the entire thing. Here's the link: www.stopstealingdreams.com.
The only comment I can think of, off the top of my head, to add to Godin's magnum opus would be something like this:
134. Maybe it's because my first career was in business, not education, but this needs to be shouted: STUDENTS' TIME HAS A DOLLAR VALUE, TOO. IT'S NOT ONLY THE LABOR HOURS OF TEACHERS THAT COST MONEY. A school that organizes time and schedules for the convenience of adults and treats kids as if they should sit around, bored, most of the time . . . is a school that has no business surviving in the 21st century. Just as no businessperson would travel to a conference halfway across the country that consisted of nothing but non-interactive, large-group lectures, we shouldn't ask children to spend their precious time on this earth in so unproductive a venture. Seth Godin says that the original purpose of schools was to create compliant masses for the industrial economy and the consumer economy, and he says they did a reasonably good job of it. I disagree. Old-style schools do not breed compliance, they breed boredom and lethargy. They breed workers who think it's OK to loaf all day on the job, since they have been loafing from the ages of 6 through 18 in the public school system.
Germany has one of the most productive economies on earth, and Germans take five weeks or more of vacation per year. Americans are lucky to get a week or two. We Americans loaf in school, then scramble to make money by logging more hours on the job. If we worked harder in school, we could work smarter (not harder) in the workplace and have a much better quality of life. And maybe better beer, too.
I'm not saying that high-tech should replace schools. Far from it! I'm saying that education always has been, or at least should have been, a HIGH-TOUCH operation. Kids need lots of care and attention to grow up, and we should use all the high-tech tools we can possibly get our hands on to provide them with that HIGH-TOUCH personal care and attention, not factory-style instruction.