1. Time is a variable:we must provide each student with the time and means to succeed. Rather than punish the student who learns more slowly than the arbitrarily chosen period, we must treat each student as the class. We must find a way of doing this. (see Note 1 below).
2. Three modes of instruction: 1) self-paced or CAI, 2) project or problem-solving and 3) discussion. (See Note 4 below.)
3. Self-paced or computer-assisted instruction (CAI) requires that each student have access to a computer and modem and access to the curriculum on a server on a 24/7 basis. Projects and problems should be relevant to students so they can relate to the given subject area. (See Note 3 below.)
4. One of the goals of education is to create self-learners. For all other subjects, the teacher can pose a project or problem that is relevant to the student. Once the problem is defined, the class can be broken down into groups of 4-5 students in order to research the solution to the problem. (See Note 2 below.)
6. The culture in a school starts at the top and filters down. The key questions are: Does information flow both ways? Do students sometimes teach their teachers about how to use features of new technologies? [comments by Dr. Fischler to be added]
7. Math is a language. Math is a way of using synonyms. One quarter is like 25 out of 100 or 41 out of 164. Math teaches students about the need to be flexible. [comments by Dr. Fischler to be added]
8. Suspend judgment. [comments by Dr. Fischler to be added]
9. Science is a verb. [comments by Dr. Fischler to be added]
Note 1: Other industries have made similar changes and it is now time for education to do the same. FedEx can tell you where any package is at any time. Look at banking, which is now available 24 hours a day through ATMs and you can go to almost any ATM to withdraw or deposit funds. Both industries invested in information and delivery systems to meet the needs of their clients rather than asking their clients to accommodate to a fixed structure. Now the automobile industry is enabling customers to order on demand rather than requiring them to accept whatever is available in the dealer’s lot. In the business world, however, there is competition that requires companies to adapt – education has not had this catalyst.
As long as time is fixed, then student progress is what is variable within the fixed time frame. Thus, 30% of the student population is punished through failures.
Note 3: For English and Math, we should implement CAI in the1st grade (and continue thereafter). The reason English and Math are chosen is that these are the two cultural imperative languages. If you know these two languages and are motivated as a self-learner, you can teach yourself almost anything you want to learn.
My theme is consistent: “Children learn at different rates and have different preferential learning styles.” Time must be the variable and mastery the goal. If students do not fully understand algebra, they will have a difficult time learning trigonometry. If they have not mastered reading, they will have a difficult time comprehending high school science textbooks or the New York Times. The consequences of not making this change leads to an increase in dropouts and eventually to an increase in the poverty-level class. (28 December 2006, abe.thestudentistheclass.com)