I was nine years old when I stopped enjoying school, and my father, an educator himself, was surprised.
“What changed?” He asked me. I considered the question as seriously as a nine year old can, and told him.
“Last year, in second grade,” I explained, “we did fun things, like write poems for Halloween. This year, our Halloween homework is to memorize these spelling words. It’s boring! Why don’t they ask us to do something fun with the spelling words, like write a poem using them?”
For years, my dad used that story as a quick explanation of how games can be educational without being complicated. And yet still, twenty years later, education across the United States is suffering and students are “bored” in most classes.
What’s stopping us?
We have devices that allow us to communicate across thousands of miles. We have cars that can start themselves. We have tablets and glasses that look (and act!) like something out of a Science Fiction movie. Yet we can’t seem to make an educational curriculum that educates and entertains.
Part of the issue is that, while these other magical creations work as a result of added functionality, educational curriculum is comprised of a variety of problems:
- Crowd control, as classrooms are often filled with 20-40 students per teacher
- Learning theories – what, exactly, is the “right way” to get to students
- Connecting to students is an incredibly difficult task, subject matter aside
- Determining what, exactly, should be taught
So, as we continue into the future, what should we focus on? What’s the first area of reform to tackle?