Monday, January 31, 2011

Interview with Yaqsan

The next interview in the student series is with a naturally gifted young speaker from Oman named Yaqsan. I met Yaqsan, his classmates and their teacher, Salim Al Busaidi, in Qatar in 2009. I wrote about him and his presentation at the Flat Classroom Conference because he was, and still is, an inspiration. I was overwhelmed with how polite, organized and engaging he was during our trip. He is now 18 and studying Law in England and I am happy to have reconnected with him for this interview. (To read the previous interviews in this series, check the bottom of the post for links.)

1. How would you describe your social media use on a normal day?

Yaqsan: As you are well aware everything is now mobile. So all my updates, emails etc come to my phone. But when I'm home my laptop is always on, same thing goes to my email and facebook.

2. Are you a gamer?

Yaqsan: Well I do play playstation 3 but only to some extent. I prefer playing multiplayer shoot em up like Battlefield Bad Company 2.

3. Do you think school, as an institution, is valuable? Why?

Yaqsan: School is the start of a long process of receiving knowledge. If schools were not valuable this will lead to higher education institutions losing their value because the foundation of the learning building has been taken away.

4. What aren't students being taught in school that you feel should be taught?

Yaqsan: This from a personal experience. In Oman unfortunately lab work is very limited. Most experiments are in writing. And IF the students go to the lab then the teacher is the one who does the experiment. So, more lab work.
5. What did you do in school that you feel was a waste of your time?

Yaqsan: I had a subject which was unfortunately useless to me. The subject was life skills. In my opinion life skills are acquired not taught in school.

6. What is the most valuable academic subject for students entering the second decade of the 21st century?

Yaqsan: There are many subjects that are valuable. But in my opinion physics and chemistry on reusable energy is very important, as everyone is aware oil now is predicted to run out in 50 years. Also humanitarian subjects are important like law as we are now suing everyone. But also as crime rate has reached sky high.

7. What was the most memorable lesson you ever had in school?

Yaqsan: To be honest physics was my favorite subject especially nuclear physics. The teacher who taught us knew how to connect to students, even though this is a subject which has a very narrow error margin. He still knew how to make the lesson fun. Which led me to get the highest mark from all my other scientific subjects.

8. What are your thoughts on standardized tests?

Yaqsan: Well it depends. One argument is they will be more fair. It will be easy to judge students because everyone would've had the same exams. But on the other hand not everyone has the same quality of education and it might be unfair on some students.

9. What makes a good teacher good?

Yaqsan: This again depends on the subject. But overall a teacher who isn't too strict on the students and also not too outgoing. If the teacher made the students his/her friends then they will be looked at with admiration and respect. Also from experience.

10. Do you feel that googling facts is a suitable replacement for knowing them?

Yaqsan: If the person already knows the facts then there is no need to google them. But if the person doesn't know them then googling them is an option. But I advise the person who does google the facts to remember them for future reference. This century is all about education. Unfortunately now if the person has knowledge but doesn't know how to use the computer is looked up on them with a frown.

11. You've connected with students from around the world- what are the big differences between students around the globe?

Yaqsan: As technology takes over the differences are becoming smaller and smaller. This I think is not totally a good thing. Because those differences are what makes each nation different from the other. The only difference that are left are for example the food we eat and the way we speak.

12. In Qatar you spoke at the TEDx event- what was that experience like?

Yaqsan: For some reason I've always liked speaking in front of a crowd. The experience was wonderful. Me at the front speaking my thoughts and an audience who listened to every word I said. After that speech I made more speeches at other places. Which all went good. Before I end I would like to advice the people who are shy or afraid to speak in front of people, well not to be shy and afraid, when you get up on the stage (or the front) just forget about everyone else this is your moment and don't let anyone ruin it for you. Speaking in front of a crowd will increase your confidence.

Check out the previous interviews in the series:

Pearce Delphin (Part One) Pearce Delphin (Part Two)

17-year-old deontological libertarian from Australia

Todd Oh 17-year-old App developer from South Korea

Lane Sutton 14-year-old entrepreneur

Anna Hoffstrom (Part One) Anna Hoffstrom (Part Two)
18-year-old Autodidact and Unschooler from Finland/Maine

11 year old Texan living in Singapore

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Interview with Priyanka

As I try to invite student viewpoints to our discussions about education reform, I get to learn how different student perspectives can be. Below is my interview with Priyanka, an 11 year old born in Texas, going to school in Singapore with teacher Keith Ferrell. Priyanka is a 5th grader who loves to read, draw and write stories. Keith is the Integration Specialist at Singapore American School (SAS) and is someone I have collaborated with in the past. The SAS mission statement lists "Academic Rigor" as their # 1 priority and from Priyanka's answers, you can tell it isn't just a hollow statement.

1. How old are you and where are you from?

Priyanka: I’m 11 years old, and I’m from Texas.

2. Do you use social media at all? Is Facebook popular in Asia or is something else more popular?

Priyanka: I mainly use email. But Facebook is pretty popular too – a lot of my friends have an account.

3. Do you think school is valuable? Why?

Priyanka: I think school is very valuable! Without an education, kids wouldn’t have the skills or smarts to get a good start in life. But I think having fun is important, too, and enjoying yourself.

4. If you could learn anything that you aren't learning right now, what would it be?

Priyanka: Probably how to save money – it’s useful anywhere and everywhere, for everyone!

5. Have you ever been taught something that didn't seem important in any way?

Priyanka: Definitely measuring angles and using a protractor. I don’t understand how that’s going to help me at all. Also, history. What’s the point of knowing a bunch of facts about things that have already happened?

6. What is the most valuable academic subject for students entering the second decade of the 21st century?

Priyanka: I don’t think there is any one most important. You have to know EVERYTHING, because if you just know one or two, it doesn’t really help you out a lot. You have to combine all of your skills to be productive.

7. What are your thoughts on working in groups versus doing work individually? Do you like one or the other?

Priyanka: I think that it’s important to know how to work both individually and in a group. But I prefer working individually – I just feel like I go a lot faster.

8. What are your thoughts on standardized tests?

Priyanka: I don’t like them, but I think they’re necessary, to get a general idea of how students are doing compared to others in their grade level.

9. What makes a good teacher good?

Priyanka: A good teacher has to love teaching. They have to have the knowledge and understanding of children, and the children have to like and trust them.

10. Do you feel that googling facts can replace knowing them?

Priyanka: Definitely not! You might not have a computer around someday when you want to know something. We need to rely on ourselves, not others, to have the information and knowledge we need.

11. Are you working on any cool projects outside of school?

Priyanka: I’m always working on something! Usually it’s some kind of craft for my room. Sometimes I put on plays for my sister, or do science experiments.

12. You've traveled all across Asia- what is the most amazing thing you've done or seen?

Priyanka: I’ve seen so many cool things – I can’t choose just one. But some things I especially loved were: Going kayaking, seeing & climbing on the Great Wall of China, seeing the Shanghai World Expo, and going to Angkor Wat, in Cambodia.

13. What's the best book you read in the last year?

Priyanka: I love all of Gail Carson Levine’s books, but probably the ones I liked the most were: The Princess Tales (Vol. 1 & 2), Ella Enchanted, Ever and Fairest.

Check out the previous interviews in the series:

Pearce Delphin (Part One) Pearce Delphin (Part Two)

17-year-old deontological libertarian from Australia

Todd Oh 17-year-old App developer from South Korea

Lane Sutton 14-year-old entrepreneur

Anna Hoffstrom (Part One) Anna Hoffstrom (Part Two)
18-year-old Autodidact and Unschooler from Finland/Maine

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Interview with Anna Hoffstrom (Part Two)

In part one of this interview, 18-year-old unschooler Anna Hoffstrom shared her thoughts on impromptu lessons, the institution of school and standardized test.

Q: Do you feel that Googling facts is a suitable replacement for knowing

@adversarian: The way I see it, if I need to know something new, looking it up on
Google is fine. If I need the information again, I can look it up
again, and the more I need to repeat that process the more the
information validates itself as something that's worthwhile to
remember. Trying to memorize every bit of information I come across is
just impossible, and a fast fact-check on Google is fine by me.

Q: You are an unschooler. I know that when I was younger, I was not mature enough to handle self-education. Do you think unschooling is a universally applicable model or does it work only for highly motivated learners?

@adversarian: A lot of people don't understand how involved a parent is in an
unschooled child's learning. Unschooling parents have to actively
build a positive, active learning environment and having a positive
attitude about learning is a must. Every bit the child learns will
build up to knew questions, new interests, new projects - all of which
is initiated by the child. The parents role is to support the child's
interests, guide the child when wanted, and answer questions.

So it's not about motivation, discipline, or maturity. It's not about
keeping yourself to a rigorous curricula when you're a five-year-old
and can't handle that kind of responsibility. Unschooling will work
with any child. It's how all children learn before they go to school;
unschoolers just keep following that same informal model.

The more important question is if the PARENTS are highly motivated.

Q: You've had the unique experience of being a student in both America and Finland-- how would you describe the different approaches?

@adversarian: The differences in American and Finnish education can be surprising.

My first impression on going to school in Finland was how informal and
laid back the school was. Students took their shoes off along with
their coats, called teachers by their first names, and the different
grades were all sociable with each other. Kids were giggling and
playing in the corridors.

In contrast, what was expected academically was much more advanced
than in the American schools I had gone to.
In Finland the school system is set up differently: kids start school
at the age of seven (something that studies have shown makes the first
years of education more effective and disrupts family life much less),
are in the same class with the same kids from grades 1-6 in
elementary, and then go to middle school for grades 7-9 with the same
class for those three years.

What really makes the Finnish school system different is that the
process in which seniors in high school go through in America (career
planning, college planning, etc) is what the ninth graders in Finland
go through. After ninth grade, students have to pick either a
vocational high school (engineers, chauffeurs, cooks, hairdressers,
artists, etc) or an academic high school (doctors, architects,
journalists, teachers, etc). The secondary schools treat the
applicants much like colleges do: they require an application,
possibly an interview, and judge their students based on their
academic performance in middle school.

Another couple details: in Finland education is compulsory until the
completion ninth grade (or until a child reaches the age of 17),
secondary school has tuition fees (which you can get loans for), and
children going to school use the same public transportation system
everyone else does. Bus fares, food, and regular medical check ups are
paid for by the government until the child has completed compulsory
schooling. Out-of-country field trips are common in grade 9.

In general, Finnish schools give their students much more
responsibility than American schools, and it's what makes their
students so academically capable.

Q: Are you working on or planning any interesting projects for yourself?

@adversarian: Right now the project I'm most excited about is a writing and
photography business I'm starting in a couple months. My blog is
another big project of mine, and I have big plans for it this year.
But most of my projects are spontaneous, and I wouldn't have it any
other way. It keeps me on my toes and I keep learning things I never
would have expected to come across!

Check out the previous interviews in the series:

Pearce Delphin (Part One)

Pearce Delphin (Part Two)

Todd Oh

Lane Sutton

Anna Hoffstrom (Part One)

Interview with Anna Hoffstrom (Part One)

The conversation about education reform tends to be a one-sided conversation. In this student interview series, you will get a chance to read the thoughts of students from across the globe. My interview with 18-year-old Anna Hoffstrom below is the fourth in the series and Anna gives us a great window into the mind of an "Unschooler."

Anna is a remarkably bright young lady with a unique perspective on some the major issues facing educators today. She has spent time in both the U.S. and Finland (where she currently lives) and has well thought out opinions about learning. She began the journey from traditional education to homeschooling to unschooling in the middle of 8th grade and "hasn't looked back since."

Q: How old are you and where are you from?

@adversarian: I recently turned 18 and live in Finland with my parents. I grew up in America, from ages 2-12, but my family moved back to Finland in 2005. Despite loving Finland and its culture I identify myself as American, and English is my first language.

Q: How would you describe your social media use on a normal day?

@adversarian: I tweet daily, and am looking into how to connect with autodidacts on Facebook as well. It might not be considered social media, but some of the best conversations I have are still through old-fashioned email!

Q: Do you think school, as an institution, is valuable? Why?

@adversarian: In today's society, what makes traditional public schools valuable are their mass efficiency, the millions of jobs, and the ease of having an educational record. They are the child's equivalent of a cubicle job: comfortable, familiar, and what people perceive as normal. It's what's

But as an educational system I think the current public school system, especially in America, is in terrible need of reform and gives very little tangible value back into the community. It's getting more and more obvious that cookie cutter education doesn't work.

Alternative school models, such as the Montessori and Sudbury models, are much more effective in educating students. That makes them much more valuable.

But traditional public schools? No, I don't find them valuable at all. The problems schools solve can be solved in much better ways.

Q: What weren't you being taught in school that you feel should be taught?

@adversarian: In America I really noticed a lack of world culture and world history in what we were learning. Something else I think should be taught, even from a young age, is reading, watching, and talking about the news. The two times we did that in school was on 9/11 and when Mount St. Helens erupted late 2004. Both experiences made a big impact on all of my classmates, and the impromptu lessons based around those events were a lot more effective than they would've been without such an obvious and tangible real-world example.

Q: What did you do in school that you feel was a waste of your time?

@adversarian: Most of my public school experience involved being ahead of the curricula because of my curiosity. Because of that, I helped tutor the struggling students in the class, and I learned very little in school. I had a wonderful experience tutoring and helping my peers, and that was never a waste of time for me, but sitting in school most of my day without learning much myself WAS a waste of time.

Q: What is the most valuable academic subject for students entering the second decade of the 21st century?

@adversarian: The most valuable academic subject isn't much of a subject on its own, but I would say study skills. Being able to adapt and learn are the two most important skills anyone can have, and being resourceful enough and understanding our own learning will grant us those
abilities. We can't predict our future, but we can do our best to prepare ourselves for it.

Q: What are your thoughts on the old phrase "Repetition is the mother of learning"?

@adversarian: Repetition can be helpful for memorizing, but I strongly disagree that it is the mother of learning. Learning something should require a deeper, more critical understanding than simple memorization. Anyone can remember 12x12=144, but understanding how multiplication works requires more than repeating an equation.

Q: What are your thoughts on standardized tests?

@adversarian: I understand the use of standardized testing to aid college applications, but I don't approve of it. For a multitude of reasons, tests themselves aren't going to be a realistic representation of a person's academic ability. Some of us get test anxiety, we might just be having a bad day, we might get high scores but not be emotionally ready for college, etc. There's so much more that needs to be considered, so standardized tests can be misleading.

Q: What makes a good teacher good?

@adversarian: In my life, the best teachers have been the ones who have made an effort to understand my perspective. They take the time to present material in a way I'll be able to understand and connect to the things I already know, instead of telling me what I need to know without filling in the gaps. They emphasize understanding instead of memorization.

Stay Tuned for Part Two with Anna Hoffstrom.

Check out the previous interviews in the series:

Pearce Delphin (Part One)

Pearce Delphin (Part Two)

Todd Oh

Lane Sutton

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Interview with Lane Sutton

Here is my interview with 14 year-old entrepreneur (yes, you read that right) Lane Sutton. Lane is an extraordinary young man who is highly motivated to reach his goals. He spoke at Jeff Pulver's #140conf in 2010, at age 13, and runs his own website. I think that young people like Lane need to be involved in the discussion about reforming education to meet the needs of 21st century learners so please comment, question, debate in the comment section below whether or not you are an educator.

1. How old are you and where are you from?

I am 14 years old and from Framingham, Massachusetts (metrowest of Boston)

2. How would you describe your social media use on a normal day?

Typically, in the morning I check all of my updates, do some tweets and then head off to school. A bad habit of mine, but I check my phone right when I get out of school for voicemail, e-mails, tweets. I will usually spend probably an hour in total using Twitter in any given day.

3. Can you tell us about your experience speaking at the 140 Character Conference?

I had heard about the conference online, and saw that it was coming to Boston, I applied to be a speaker and waited to hear back if I was accepted or not. I was accepted! My topic was about my entire entrepreneur story, how I got started, and how far I have come now. I was very honored to be speaking in such a huge auditorium with over a few hundred people in front of me listening, plus a ton watching livestream. This was also one of my first speeches.

4. Do you think school, as an institution, is valuable? Why?

In some cases, I do think school is important to learn especially things that we can use in life.

5. What aren't you being taught in school that you feel should be taught?

Using Technology Safely – I feel that many of the students in our school don’t use it the right way, and can really learn from it like finding helpful resources online and not sharing too much with social media or the internet.

6. What do you do in school that you feel is a waste of your time?

Sometimes, Science class and Social Studies, I think we learn some things that may not be things we need to know, or can apply to our lives. I am not planning on becoming a geographer, archaeologist, chemist, or a scientist.

7. What is the most valuable academic subject for students entering the
second decade of the 21st century?

I still think Math or Algebra classes are really essential to learn since we use it everyday.

8. If you could design a lesson for next year's class, how would you
structure it?

Tough question! I would probably create a lesson about business and teaching the class about getting a job, how to market themselves, differentiate themselves in a competitive market which are all skills that we will need as the 8th graders move into high school and look for jobs.

9. What are your thoughts on standardized tests?

I think that it isn't necessarily right to do since some students are at different levels of reading, and how fast they can learn, what they can remember, etc., I think that teachers should customize their tests for classes, or maybe even have multiple versions of tests to also prevent cheating.

10. What makes a good teacher good?

A teacher who makes learning fun and interesting, not boring, by bringing the subject to life.

11. Do you feel that Googling facts is a suitable replacement for knowing

Yes and no. Sometimes I might have to Google search for facts since I just may not know them. But, of course if it was taught in class, it would be my responsibility to know them by memory.

12. What projects are you working on outside of school?

I run Kid Critic ( where I write reviews on movies, books, activities, restaurants, products and more from a kid-friendly point of view. I also work as a Social Media Strategist for small businesses helping to create their online web presence and build the brand using social platforms. I also do a lot of public speaking to organizations, at events, and conferences.

My twitter handle is @KidCriticUSA.

Check out the previous interviews in the series:

Pearce Delphin (Part One)

Pearce Delphin (Part Two)

Todd Oh

Friday, January 7, 2011

Interview with Todd Oh

This is the second interview in my series with students from around the world. My first interview was with Australian student Pearce Delphin (part one, part two) and in sticking with that side of the world, next up is a student from South Korea. I think it is important to give students a voice in the conversation about education reform and the Q & A below hopefully adds something to the conversation. Todd Oh is a brilliant young man with many fascinating ideas and I am excited to present his thoughts on education to you here!

1. How old are you and where are you from?

@toddoh_: Hi, I'm Todd Oh, 17 years old boy who lives in South Korea! :)

2. How would you describe your social media use on a normal day?

@toddoh_: Well, I'm quite social media-addicted because of my startup. I wake up and check twitter mentions. Then I check email and send some messages to our teammates through smartphone IM(Kik). While studying at school, we study facebook, social networks, and many web/mobile-related technologies. Because of school, I use facebook for class. Turn on my laptop and start commenting and tweeting. Later, when I'm home- I read and send many tweets, and look around RSS reader to catchup new things.

3. Are you a gamer?

@toddoh_: I play some games but not enjoying it well. My favorite activity is taking photos (outside), not playing games :)

4. Do you think school, as an institution, is valuable? Why?

@toddoh_: Yes, valuable. But not South Korean schools. School without rigorous curriculum is valuable. It will help students creative. Also, school helps us to experience how to socialize well. School is a mini social before we go to real competitive world.

But South Korean schools and Obama's new public school renovation plan are COMPLETELY NOT valuable. Rigorous, strict curriculum can't make student creative and autodidact.
I think rating students by numbers or through exam ONLY is the worst part of it. Exam can't sort which student is creative and passionate. Exam and also, creativity program to valuate students.

5. What aren't you being taught in school that you feel should be taught?

@toddoh_: Journalism. Even though not all students wanna be journalist, Journalism is quite necessary to increase writing skills. Also it will train us to capture essentials of everything. Thinking- this is a good start of everything.

6. What do you do in school that you feel is a waste of your time?

@toddoh_: In this case, I can say every time everyday. I note that South Korea's school is good at cramming. This is why I said 'every time everyday'. We study over 13 subjects (9/10/11/12 grade) and all we need to do is cram with the textbook and previous K-SATs. Can you imagine it? :)

7. What is the most valuable academic subject for students entering the second decade of the 21st century?

@toddoh_: Liberal Arts. That's all.
Some people says IT is the most valuable, some people even says nanoscale science or neurobiology. No, those are valuable, NOT 'THE MOST'.
Even as digital takes control of this world, we are human. Did you see WALL-E, animation from Pixar? Everyone forgot about humanism and nature, and what happened?
Liberal Arts is for all subjects. Without this, we can't live like humans. We live because we think, feel, love and wanna be valuable every time.

8. If you could design a lesson for next year's class, how would you structure it?

@toddoh_: We can't structure class. Government structures it. How lovely this is... :(
But If I could- Industrial Design, Journalism, Social Science(sociology), Literature.

9. What are your thoughts on standardized tests?

@toddoh_: I said about this above(No.4) actually. Not all students can be rated by standardized numbers and sorted (= exam). There are many standards for many different characters. And I know we can't apply double standards on exams. So let's just go with multiple ways. Exam and another programs that can allow creativity and personalities. Obama misunderstood something; Koreans are good at solving math/science problems, but thats it. We know we have to start creative educations such as media creation.

The great guy who leads culture, the great guy who can solve standardized thing faster. Different angle, different results. We all say Steve Jobs is an amazing guy (even if he is selfish or whatever). Does he can solve something faster? No. But does he change our lives? Yes.

10. What makes a good teacher good?

@toddoh_: Hmm, don't be nice to students. Be ready to learn and give it back to students, Be an adviser to students. Being nice is easy- just smile and don't teach them with passion. Saying 'good!' always is easy, but advising students is not an easy thing.

But students want it. Even though your students are not ready to get advice, try it slowly. So if you're going to do this, you have to update brain rapidly.
Good to Great :)

11. Do you feel that Googling facts is a suitable replacement for knowing them?

@toddoh_: Sometimes yes, sometime nope. Case-by-Case. A good teacher can judge if it is right information or not :)
Actually media(including mass-media) gave us many good facts. There are many routes. Several iPad apps are good for it.

P.S: Wolframalpha is also good.

12. What projects are you working on outside of school?

@toddoh_: I'm working on my startup with 3 American students(HS/Univ both). We're building something secret now and will unveil within first quarter.
All I can say is it's related to location. To have fun, Full of fun together- its the rough concept :)

I was also speaker of TEDxYouth@Seoul(Korea) 2010.

You can follow Todd on Twitter @toddoh_.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Interview with Pearce Delphin (Part Two)

Connected teachers spend a lot of time discussing the future of education on social networks. One main theme that continues to be a focal point of these discussions is how modern education needs to be more student-centered. The conversation usually takes place between teachers and I thought it would be of value to invite students from around the world to join the discussion.

I recently connected with a 17 year old student from Australia named Pearce Delphin, also known as @zzap on Twitter. Pearce came onto my radar after I read a story about some controversy he was involved in on Twitter. He struck me as a very intelligent and opinionated 17 year old, so I decided to ask his opinion on a host of subjects that interest educators in my learning community.

Pearce lives in Melbourne, Australia, he just completed high school at Peneligh and Essendon
Grammar School, a private school in Essendon, Melbourne. He obtained a scholarship to Monash University and he is thinking about getting a Business/IT degree there. Pearce is interested in politics and describes himself as a deontological libertarian. He loves "coffee, philosophy, books, and of course, IT and the Internet."

In Part One of this interview Pearce gave his thoughts on the value of school as an institution, the value of self-directed learning, social media, gaming and a host of other topics. This is part two. We would love to know what you think about what Pearce thinks! Don't be afraid to leave a comment below.
Q. What are your thoughts on standardized tests?

@zzap: Standardized testing is good ... to a point. The nationalization of
high school testing is being introduced here in Australia with
horrific repercussions. I think it's important to save some kind of
standardized score so you can see how someone else achieves
academically in comparison to someone else on a relatively equal
playing field. But when the number of participants to a specific test
becomes large, it reaches a certain point where it becomes
exponentially difficult for it to remain unbiased. I really don't know
of a solution to this. What is most critical, though, is that the
standardized tests aren't dumbed down. There should be only a very
small percentage of people receiving a perfect score, and very few
people receiving a near perfect score. The fact that anyone gets a
perfect score at all indicates that the test is not difficult

Q. What makes a good teacher good?

@zzap: This is, of course, another subjective question. To me, a good
non-interventionist approach makes a teacher good. As I mentioned in
question five, I thrive with teachers that leave me to my own devices.
I learn in my own way, and allowing me to do this is easiest for both
of us -- the teacher doesn't have to worry about me, and I don't have
to worry about "pleasing" the teacher with pointless shenanigans. Of
course, I understand that not everyone is like this, and a solid
teacher is vital to the educational development.

I can't speak for them, but I think it's clear what is really important: a good teacher
is someone who can identify their students' style of learning, and who
can subsequently deal with that student appropriately (that is, either
leave them alone or teach according to the student's needs).

Q. Do you feel that Googling facts is a suitable replacement for knowing them?

@zzap: Yes. Let me propose to you this: if you and I are sitting at a
table, you opposite me, and I had a phone under the desk with an
Internet connection and I could Google anything I wanted without you
seeing. How long do you think I could pretend to be a doctor? I think
I could pretend for a very long time.

Now, the key: if I could pretend to be your doctor for three years, or if I could pretend to be your doctor for five years, what is there to prevent you from certifying me
as a doctor? So just like a machine that can do arithmetic, i.e. a calculator, in one's pocket allows the entire population to be mathematically literate, constant access to the Internet makes everyone potentially a genius.

If one can access any information at any hour of any day in any place, do we really need an education? Because of this, I think you'll see a slow and, in my opinion, a very
needed, change in higher education bodies: they will become less of a
place where students go to learn, and they will instead turn into a
more of a research and assessment body.

A university will say something like: you want to call yourself a doctor? Come to our university for only one month, we will test you on every aspect of being a doctor, and if you pass we will certify you. Where you learn this information, how you learn this information, when you learn this information: it's all up to you. This will simultaneously cause a much greater personal independence required by students, which will also help them in their future careers since they are now naturally independent.

Return to Part One