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Food For Thought

Less is More.

Human knowledge has become vast. Every digital citizen can publish to world-wide audience instantly and devices allow access to exponentially growing content almost anywhere on Earth. Connectivity is still unreliable but it is there. Developing countries play literacy games and they have incentives to make sure that their citizens own a device and stay connected to a network.

While we could consider a general problem, let me stick to educating children in the traditional sense.

  • Context: K - 12
  • Content: Whatever we want children to learn in the 21st century
  • Pedagogy: Less is More
  • Technology: Everyone has something in their hand. If not, there are various groups (NGO and GOV) working towards that goal and let's assume it's given.

Some background (Also watch their older/newer talks if you have time - click on Full Bio link to find more videos on TED page)

Goals: Lesser amount of content (textbooks or other digital artifacts) presented with a lot of crosscutting concepts. No separate subjects. Everything is intertwined. No age based class/grade separation though it could end up that way statistically (but let that happen automatically rather than schools and govt. deciding that apriori). Assessment should be purely diagnostic and feedback should be in the form of reinforcement (not just review of the same old content). Competitive assessment or standardized testing could still exist for institutions (academic or employment) but they might use other criteria also for building a diverse work-force as per society's current needs.

  • If technology is an enabler are we not ready for this? What's missing in terms of technology?

  • Here is a starting point for Science Education  As this is a long document, please read the 3-page executive summary if this topic is of interest to you and would like to discuss further.

  • Let's not limit this to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Bring in the humanities - languages, social and economic sciences.

For those who are pressed for time, here are couple of dimensions presented in the exec summary:

Scientific and Engineering Practices

  1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  2. Developing and using models
  3. Planning and carrying out investigations
  4. Analyzing and interpreting data
  5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
  6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
  7. Engaging in argument from evidence
  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation
  • Scale, proportion, and quantity
  • Systems and system models
  • Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation
  • Structure and function
  • Stability and change

Can we do this in the next few years?

Anyone aware of this type of initiatives for K-12?

Do we have to keep kids in the schools for 18 years with no continuity across subjects in a given year and also across academic years?

Does every kid need to be on the same page at the same time during school years?

What do we need to do to go down the path of 'Less is More'?

Start a conversation with us if you are passionate about any of these topics.