The U.S. educational system has many issues and as a parent of four elementary children, I am concerned. As I read, I keep my eyes open to potential solutions to these problems and sometimes a new method challenges how I think about education.
I talked to my dad — a former teacher — about the state of affairs in education. He believes that whatever the solutions that they will require fundamental changes in the use of technology and in structures such as unions. He said he can hardly wait to see what kind of teaching methods become available in the next five years.
We discussed education alternatives such as the Khan Academy which was introduced to me by my wife’s mom. This guy tutored family and then put the videos on YouTube. There are now 2,100 of them.
I teach the way that I wish I was taught. The lectures are coming from me, an actual human being who is fascinated by the world around him. The concepts are conveyed as they are understood by me, not as they are written in a textbook developed by an educational bureaucracy. Viewers know that it is the labor of love of one somewhat quirky and determined man who has a passion for learning and teaching. I don’t think any corporate or governmental effort–regardless of how much money is thrown at the problem–can reproduce this.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a textbook publisher, is rethinking how to teach. They are taking the time to finance a study on how to teach children based on how they learn instead of simply writing an ebook reader for textbooks.
As soon as their new Holt McDougal Algebra 1 textbook was finished, it was decided to re-imagine it as an iPad app named HMH Fuse Algebra 1. The app would include exactly the same content as the 950-page book, but it would also contain over 400 videos, animations, a graphing calculator, multiple presentation methods and numerous other features.
There is hope for education and I, for one, would love to be part of the solution.