GUEST COLUMN: Five ways to change how teachers function in K-12 classrooms

Published: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 05:09 PM.

Less than half of high school graduates who took the SAT in 2013 were prepared for college, continuing a five-year trend.

Less than half – 44 percent -- who took the ACT had the reading skills necessary for college. That's down from 53 percent in 2009. And nearly a third failed to meet standards in four areas: reading, English, science and math.

The failures have persisted despite years of new tests, new curricula and new demands on teachers, notes educational researcher and consultant Charles M. Reigeluth, author of "Reinventing Schools: It's Time to Break the Mold."

"We continue to approach the same problems with the same sorts of solutions, despite the fact that they're not working," he says. "Instead, we need a fundamental shift in how we educate our children. Our public school system was designed to meet the needs of a long-ago era – the Industrial Age. It's not working because we're now in the Information Age."

Teachers unfairly shoulder much of the blame for the lack of progress, he notes, but they're hamstrung by roles and rules that don't work for 21st century students.

"We need to change from teacher-centered education to learner-centered. In the Industrial Age paradigm, teachers are a judge and a perceived threat. In the Information Age, they should be guides and coaches who help students overcome obstacles," says Reigeluth.

His multidimensional approach includes reducing bureaucracy in schools; encouraging students to teach each other with teacher supervision; having interns and other paraprofessionals, including retiree volunteers, assist with guiding student learning; and creating an "educational cooperative," where a community's adults can earn access to learning resources, advancing their own education, in exchange for helping students learn. 



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