Howard Zinn, MUN, & The Future of Education

Posted by on Apr 26, 2013 in Blog, Current Events, ModelUN, MUN, MUN-E | Comments Off on Howard Zinn, MUN, & The Future of Education

Howard Zinn, MUN, & The Future of Education

After spending weeks thinking about the presentation and education panel I would be leading at ChoMUN, I found a new perspective on our current systems. The group at the Da Vinci Institute had a great deal of experience in “Futurist” thought. In the first few paragraphs of their treatise on the future of education, they cite the inefficiency of systems as they exist today. It is a distant past, but before I continue I want to explain their first reference to an inefficient system that hindered progress in the ancient world: the Roman Number system. It is accepted by most mathematics historians (yes, they exist) that the progress of the Greeks ground to a complete halt when the Romans asserted their grip over most of Europe and the Mediterranean coastline. Writing a number in Roman numerals is an addition and subtraction equation in itself! Think about the number MDCCCXLIV = 1844. Imagine trying to do bookkeeping and data entry with this system. Imagine division problems… never mind exponents and decimals!! Now go a step further and imagine how engineering and finance must’ve been held back by this inefficient numerical system. In our country today, we have developed a tax code that is now 64,000 pages long. We have so many laws that most lawyers believe they are uncountable. Another system that is becoming utterly decrepit is the education system. Each of us were born with the natural proclivity towards learning (we witness, we crawl, we walk, we speak, we write, we develop language and vocabulary…) yet by the time we’ve reached adolescence, most students grow sick of the tedium of grades, papers, exams, standardized tests, rigid classrooms, and they question the “reasons” for knowing math or history. Something has gone wrong with our current investments, and our future deserves a fresh perspective. Students deserve to be inspired and teachers deserve inspired students. Our system has been slow to adapt to the revolution of the internet. The academics who are revealing a renaissance of education research are slow to push their discoveries into the classroom. The local public education districts are so oppressed by budgetary constraints that they struggle more with balance sheets, completely losing sight of advantageous reform. As a graduate student in the most quantitative field that currently exists in education (An outline of a program in psychometrics), I am a first-hand witness of the trench that lies between the practices of policy makers and educational researchers. When imagining the future of education, we must make room for the creativity of learners to pursue their interests and motivations. The extent of subject matter that can be learned has become so vast, each with a depth unrivaled in any historical context. When we restrict each student to read a subset of classical novels, whitewashed interpretations of history, and terse outlines of science, we dull the beauty and richness of the human experience. Then we take it a step further and force today’s students to bubble in dots for more than two weeks of the school year, instigating anxieties and insecurities that negate the confidence building activities that should be...

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