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X-Prize Founder Wants Ideas For Fixing Education 479

An anonymous reader writes "X-Prize Founder Peter Diamandis, speaking at SXSW, says he wants to set up a $10 million prize for fixing education — but he needs help figuring out how to target the problem. From the article: 'He said he has considered multiple directions that an Education X Prize could take, such as coming up with better ways to crowd-source education, or rewarding the creation of "powerful, addictive game" that promotes education. But he isn’t sure which way to go. There’s no shortage of high-tech visionaries and tycoons these days, running around with ideas about how to fix education. Many of them are finding, though, that technology alone isn’t enough. Exciting ideas founder quickly if they don’t sustain motivation in students who perform at widely different levels. Other challenges include the need to engage effectively with school districts, teachers and parents.'"
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X-Prize Founder Wants Ideas For Fixing Education

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  • Re:Unions (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 11, 2012 @07:35PM (#39320897)

    That's definitely a large part of the problem. I work in public education and on a daily basis see parents who have no interest in their children's education.
    Problem is, these parents generally didn't care while they were in school so the "school is boring, there's no need to learn" nonsense is generational, largely caused by the teacher problem.

    You have teachers who get tenure, have a job protected by the union and no longer care to even try to do it well.
    Ditch the teacher unions and more proactively evaluate teachers based on technology skills, classroom leadership and student involvement in the learning process.
    The good teachers aren't always the ones whose students have the best grades( standardized testing I'm pointing at you), they're the ones where the students WANT to be involved in the class process. You teach someone to have a thirst for knowledge you have a productive member of society, you teach them to regurgitate textbooks and they can't think on their own without direct instruction.

  • Finland (Score:4, Informative)

    by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @08:23PM (#39321283) Homepage

    Before someone mods you down, the head of the Finish education system (rated at the top), completely agrees with you -- they specifically avoid the competition aspects of education: []

    With America's manufacturing industries now in decline, the goal of educational policy in the U.S. -- as articulated by most everyone from President Obama on down -- is to preserve American competitiveness by doing the same thing. Finland's experience suggests that to win at that game, a country has to prepare not just some of its population well, but all of its population well, for the new economy. To possess some of the best schools in the world might still not be good enough if there are children being left behind.

    It's about cooperation, not competition. They let the teachers judge the progress, not standardized testing from on-high. There are no private schools. There are no fees for education (other than taxes).

  • Re:Jobs (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 11, 2012 @08:28PM (#39321333)

    Kids need more financially rewarding (and stable) jobs to aspire to than professional sports player.

  • by luis_a_espinal ( 1810296 ) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @08:43PM (#39321459) Homepage

    You don't need to adopt the asian cram school model. The Finns get better results with far less child abuse.

    What child abuse? What is it with this stereotype that the Japanese inflict this barbaric treatment on their students? I've been in Japan, and I haven't seen none of it. You got crazy parents that keep their kids up till the wee hours doing homework, but you have that everywhere. The key difference between Japan and the US is that:

    1. Japanese kids go to school more days during the year. Their school day is similar in lengths to ours.

    2. Kids aren't allowed to pass grades just so that they don't feel bad. If a kid is having learning problems, special care is taken for them. It's not like us that allow kids to finish HS without knowing how to read or write (literally.)

    3. Whether you are working class or upper class, your kid is guaranteed to get decent public education.

    4. Teachers are respected.

    5. Kids clean their class room (oh no, the horror, the abuse!!!!!)

    6. Kids are expected to make up their minds whether they go to college or vocational training (and tailor their HS education accordingly.) No much different from the German model. Man, on my last trip seeing my in-laws a month ago, one of the main blockbuster movies in Japan is one about the construction and launch of the Hayabusa satellite. THAT IS ONE OF THEIR BLOCKBUSTERS!. That tells you everything about the difference between their view of education and ours.

    Heck US suburban schools do as well as any schools in the world.

    If that gives you comfort, and if that gives comfort to people at large, we are fucked. It doesn't mean anything if you have large swats of working class/ethnic inner cities with schools that are flat lining. Having a few suburban schools that excel means shit. Having schools that, regardless of income class or location, provide decent education on a consistent basis (as the Japanese and Finns do), that's what matters.

    It's all about the total environment.

    Which Japanese (and Finns) provide... and which we do not. I still want to hear about this (hopefully first hand) account about this so-called child abuse in the Asian cram school model.

    To be honest, I don't care if our country adopts (or adapts from) a Japanese or Finn model. Whatever works. But I have a problem with people talking shit about a country, perpetuating stereotypes. Saying that the Japanese use or inflict child abuse to get their kids educated It is no different from the extremist Mullah in a Madrassa saying that all Western women are prostitutes, or saying that all Black people steal or all White people are racist or all Latinas get pregnant by the age of 15. It is a stereotype. It is false. It is dumb. It is bullshit. It has no room in a serious discussion about education.

  • Re:I disagree. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:03AM (#39323131)

    Oh, and it gets worse. Those teachers that you can't fire? They build up years of "seniority" and can use them to take plum jobs from competent, less senior teachers.

    This happened to me with a computer elective. One year, we had someone with an actual CS degree, who cared about teaching, and who took us to state wide competitions at which we were steadily improving in the ranking. The next, he was replaced with a more senior teacher who had previously been teaching an entirely different subject, and was going to "learn with the class" Which seemed to have meant, "everything you learned in the first three weeks of last year, spread out over all of this year, and some of it wrong...."

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:07AM (#39323163) Journal

    If I am not wrong, the one reason we want our children to be educated is to encourage them to think

    But ... If the only reason in sending a child to school is to enable him to "find a job", then we might as well get rid of all the school and send that kid to work in the factory straight-away !!

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern