Thesis: Education reform will be one of the most important innovations of the next 50 years and will be best accomplished by using the teacher as a reference point with most learning done individually.
Most people when asked about education, specifically college education, will say it is way to expensive. College education, while valuable, needs to be reformed both from a pricing standpoint but more importantly, from a structural standpoint. Individual learning aided with the help of teachers is in my opinion, the future of education. The cost of college education has risen to around 23,000 dollars. This number is sure to increase if something is not done. Just ten years ago, the average price was 13,000 dollars. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76This is a substantial increase and unless structural change takes place, the cost will most likely keep rising.
When I go to a large lecture, it is very difficult to pay attention. Between the thousands of websites and social media applications available to kids today, it is no wonder many people report this exact problem. The teacher will lecture for an hour and a half and I will get very little out of the lecture. Even if I do pay close attention, I think I could teach myself most of the material myself in less time. With the help of textbooks and the internet, along with slides provided by the professor, there is no doubt I could teacher myself the material. Many people will argue that they learn better listening to a lecture. This is why my solution to the problem of education is to make the teacher a reference point for questions. The teacher would assign reading and perhaps lecture slides at the beginning of the week. The teacher would be adding value via the slides which would be supplemented with reading from the book. My change would be how lecture is presented. The entirety of lecture would be dedicated to answering students questions, similar to office hours. This way, the student would “teach” him or herself all of the material and any material they do not understand could be answered with the help of the teacher.
The way of learning offers many advantages over the current way learning occurs. First, the student does not have to sit through a mundane lecture or even attend lecture. They can use their time more valuably without getting penalized. Then when a question comes up, the student can go to “lecture” and ask the questions they have. This would force students to do the work and actually read all of the required reading. In addition, this would also lower the cost of college education as this new system progresses. Instead of going to “lecture” the entire class could be taught online. The teacher could have online “office hours” which would replace lecture. This would substantially decrease the cost of college education.
The governor of Georgia recently proposed an education reform in the state, which mainly deals with helping children falling behind. http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/capitol_vision/2015/03/georgia-house-panel-oks-gov-deals-education-reform.html. While this is a good start, I think college education is in the most need of reform given how expensive it is. Overall, college is a time of great learning and growth. However, the system is flawed and I think change is in order. With my proposed plan, the cost of college education could fall substantially and the overall learning and efficiency would increase dramatically. Unless this change occurs, I fear prices will continue to increase and the US will continue to fall behind other countries from a learning standpoint.