Our current educational system is not doing a great job of preparing students for the 21st century. We are trying a multitude of solutions to address this issue. From No Child Left Behind (which is slowly being gutted) to a re-envisioning of how technology can serve students such as Khan Academy.
One of the main issues is that there is little differentiated teaching or learning. Students are all introduced to material at the same time and taught it at the same speed, regardless of how quickly or slowly they pick up on each individual subject. Even with high achieving students, sometimes they may get stuck and need a bit of extra time to really understand a new concept. Our challenge is to create an educational system where each student is able to learn at their own pace, speeding through subjects that come easily to them and being allowed to slow down, take their time, and get additional help with the subjects that they find less intuitive. It seems we are slowly moving toward this new educational model.
As one education expert put it, in most schools, “the center of gravity is outside the child. It is in the teacher, the textbook, anywhere and everywhere you please except in the immediate instincts and activities of the child himself. . . . Now the change which is coming into our education is the shifting of the center of gravity. It is a change, a revolution, not unlike that introduced by Copernicus when the astronomical center shifted from the earth to the sun. In this case the child becomes the sun about which the appliances of education revolve; he is the center about which they are organized.”
This would all give me more hope except for one thing. The above quote was from John Dewey, philosopher and professor at the University of Chicago and Columbia University, in his book, The School and Society, published in 1900.