Guiding Education into the 21st Century


Bringing Technology into the classroom is holding back Education.  Rather we should bring the classroom into the Technology. That is, students should be evaluated on how well they use the tools of the 21st Century rather than the tools of the 19th Century.

 Prepare students for the requirements of the 21st Century and not use 21st Century technology to teach 19th Century skills.  For example, using a computer game to teach arithmetic. 
Assign arithmetic to a computer and develop accurate estimation as the standard skill for computation.

In the 21st reading and writing becomes the responsibility of parents, in the same way as listening and speaking.  Traditionally, reading starts with the letters of the alphabet and builds up to words and sentences.

Education-21 postpones the alphabet until the baby can read.  Parents teach reading in the way they teach listening, by saying the word.  Teach reading at the same time by showing the text of the word they spoke.  The 21th Century app will teach babies to read and write before they can speak.

Part 1

STEM in the 21st Century

In the 19th Century mathematics and the sciences were dependent on arithmetic.  Arithmetic was automated first in the 20th Century.  I remember the question, “Why would you put a word in a computer?”

But math facts are still taught in the classroom and students are required to be able to do arithmetic rather than use a computer to get the exact answer.  Some argue that the rote process of arithmetic gives you a deeper understanding. 

Education-21 replaces arithmetic with accurate estimation.  The process of arithmetic is tedious at best, and a barrier at worst.  Concentrating on the details of the numbers completes with developing concepts.  Estimation is not limited by procedures like long division and square root.   Estimation is taught by trial and error.  And Accurate Estimation is in the mind of the beholder.  An estimate within 10% of nominal could given a score of 90.  Is that a good or bad score?

Higher mathematics and the sciences will be taught on a spreadsheet platform where arithmetic is invisible and graphical representation is automatic.  The student can concentrate and explore concepts.

Math Phobia has been used to explain the low interest in math and the sciences.  How much of  what we call “math phobia” is actually an aversion to the tedium of the arithmetic process.  The expectation is that without the arithmetic barrier, more students will consider the STEM subjects.

Part 2

Literacy in the 21st Century

Reading and writing are the responsibility of parents in the same way that they are responsible for listening and speaking.

Start with the standard approach to reading.  Memorize the letters of the alphabet and their various sounds.  This allows the student to construct words from the letters and deconstruct words into sounds.  This process does not typically start until the child is speaking.

Compare that with how we teach listening.  The parent points to an object and speaks it aloud.  With a bit of repetion the baby understands the meaning of the spoken word.  Education 21 teaches reading in the same way.  Word by word, not sound by sound.

At the same time the parent says the word he or she shows the text of the word.  The baby will understand the spoken word and text, at the same time.  To see this in action, visit

Whe we know babies can read, then apps will be developed to teach the baby to read by pairing text words, spoken words, and images.  The baby may not speak, buty will show reading comprehension by pointing.  If a baby can read, pre schools will build on that and 3 year olds will be texting   Children will come to school reading, writing, and calculating.  That will open the door to a new curriculum with diverse content appropriate to the 21st Century.

Part 3

Evaluation in the 21st Century

The development of the standardized test was developed during the 20th Century and plays a centrai role in Education today.  Perhaps the strongest argument against standardized tests in Education, is that they are NOT standardized tests.  In contrast with the SAT, the tests typically used in school have no information on validity or reliability.  Most importantly, there are no norms or standardization samples.  Instead individuals estimate what the passing grade will be in this State. 

School tests can be fixed by making them longitudinal and evaluating growth in specific areas.  But I do not want to fix tests, I want to go back to the 19th Century and the phrase by John Dewey: learning by doing. 

Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning is learning that takes place in the completion of an assignment or project.  Think of a teaching plan.  There is an overall goal, objectives, activies.  Project Based Learning starts with objectives and builds assignments and  projects around them.

Authentic Assessment is the ideal tool to evaluate Project Based Learning.  How well did the student complete the project?  I am in favor of a simple, Inadequate, Adequate, Superior rating.  In case of dispute or deeper evaluation, the original project is available