2 posts tagged education innovation
“Now, a small group of cognitive scientists is arguing that schools and students could take far more advantage of […] perceptual learning,” the New York Times reports.
Start observing this “perceptual learning” trend closely and you’ll see a fast-approaching revolution in the way students learn, as powerful as anything described in Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
More from the NYT article:
The brain is a pattern-recognition machine, after all, and when focused properly, it can quickly deepen a person’s grasp of a principle, new studies suggest. Better yet, perceptual knowledge builds automatically: There’s no reason someone with a good eye for fashion or wordplay cannot develop an intuition for classifying rocks or mammals or algebraic equations, given a little interest or motivation.
I saw a glimpse of the future last week as I walked around our Acton Academy elementary school during “free time”:
- A six-year-old was learning Chinese on Rosetta Stone.
- An eight-year-old was blazing through algebra problems on “JiJi” math, so he could compare its effectiveness to Kahn Academy.
- A nine-year-old was competing in math online against a European high schooler using Manga High.
Does this new, student-centered “perceptual” approach work? Yes, demonstrably—much more powerfully than the rote, top-down, assembly-line approach I’ve written about before. And the teacher’s role (and associated costs) is transformed. With student-centered learning, I believe that we can expand the student-teacher ratio from 15 or 20 to 1, to 36 to 1, which will dramatically reduce the cost of education.
We’ve been using this kind of learning at Acton Academy since the school started twenty months ago. Our students advanced more than two grade levels in reading and math in their first ten months, and based on last month’s new round of testing, they’re now 3+ grade levels above age. (And half of our elementary-aged students maxed out the test’s ninth-grade limit, so we really don’t know how far they have advanced.)
And it’s not just us: the Academy joins 40 other blended schools recognized for combining the latest adaptive software for skills with project-based learning. It’s spreading across the country.
For more on this approach, check out Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich, a thought leader in this field (full disclosure, I wrote the foreword). If you want a glimpse of what’s to come, Clark’s work is a must-read for any parent or educator wanting to raise or teach kids in the 21st century. And it’s filled with the kinds of perceptual, bottom-up learning techniques being taught by some of the best K-12 institutions in the nation.