edChart #3

(Friday, March 20th, 2009)

The third proprietary, EdChart, is that of a radar view. This chart can show a student’s current curriculum as a radar view, but the goal is to move into a new way of thinking. The Edualizer and its components will offer a way to view the student as the center of their education plight and to support them with learning weighted heavily by their aptitudes and interests.

Up to this point, the education system has been track- or class-based. Classes are created based on a set path of curriculum and students are tracked through that curriculum. Classes are attended by 30+ students who have diversified talents and interests, but whom are placed in one class together for the sake of learning material quickly and at the same pace. This approach worked fine when we had a small classroom of 8 people, but there are 34 people now. There’s too much diversified interest in any given classroom to use that time effectively.

However, this isn’t true in all cases. I still think classes that are currently above average and honors classes have an easier time learning the material. These students don’t have some of the social issues that bring down the learning capacity in lower achieving classrooms.

The disparity between the lower and higher achieving classrooms is great – because there’s more friction at the lower level, you have to find ways to alleviate the friction. The best teachers don’t want to be placed in lower achieving classrooms – they want to stick with the easier, socially wise, higher level classes. So they let the lower achieving classrooms run amuck from a teacher and administrator perspective, and these are the students we need to address. The radar view lets us focus on the student and the classes are then secondary in relation to their interests and aptitudes.

There was a big change from the web 2.0 world to the web 1.0 world. The web 1.0 world consisted of static links on pages that required the user to do all the searching. The web 2.0 world, which is very user-friendly and user-centric, is highly interactive with rich interfaces, is easy to navigate and has larger buttons. Now, education needs to get user-centric. We’re not right now – we don’t look at the individual student.

Each student should have the ability to do whatever they want. They should have the ambiguous, agnostic ability to navigate through the world of information and come up with whatever outcome is the best fit for that student. So the question we should be asking is what’s the best fit? The best fit is whatever aligns best with the students’ aptitude and interests. What you have to do is let the student loose in the world of education, see where their aptitudes are and their interests lie, and then educate them in the things that they excel at and interest them. I’m not completely discrediting liberal arts education, but I don’t think we should give students 12 years of education, throw them in college and make them choose their destiny. This is something students should be doing from day one.

Education should have a radar view, a spiral out view of students, starting the students in the middle of the spiral in kindergarten. They learn how to color, do some basic math, say words and do basic writing. The radar itself splits into two spectrums – the 360° view is all of the professions that one can aspire to be. The outside of the circle is everything you can aspire to be starting at day one and going to the outside of the circle. The circle itself is split between the right and left brain. The right brain is generally very artistic and creative - it includes the English, the writing, a little bit of sociology. The left brain consists of the engineering, the math, the sciences, the analysis. You can generally organize professions by sides of the brain, or subject matter taken in school.

There’s also another plane – the z-index, which will account for athleticism. For now, these are two different charts. We’ll put athleticism on a separate, two-dimensional radar view, as opposed to linking it up as a third or fourth dimension on the two-dimensional mind view. Of brain, mind and body, we’re focusing on mind and body at this point. Of the mind, we’re splitting between right and left brain to organize the professions – that’s how the charts will visually lay out the information. With the radar view, the students starts at kindergarten and they take whatever interests them. Let’s say they love adding, they love color. You start to see aptitude in students at an early age, which may mean right now that they might go into a GT class. The student may be slightly accelerated, but they’re still locked to their other 33 peers who eventually might end up taking calculus one, and they’re all required to progressively move at the same rate. They all have to show up at school at the same time and sit in the same classroom for that one hour (the first and last 15 minutes of which are not the best learning periods).

What we should do instead is look at where these students excel and highlight that data on their radar view so that as their aptitude grows in a certain area (like adding numbers), we can let them weight their focus on math versus English, for example. We’ll customize their learning experience and give them more time throughout the day and the school year in what aligns with their skill set.

The second thing we layer on top is the ability to change the metaphor of the curriculum. If I’m an auto-mechanic and I really like working with pistons (versus an artist who likes working with colors) and I’m in math class, then I might have a problem that says 1 piston + 1 piston = 2 pistons (versus 1 crayon + 1 crayon = 2 crayons). We’re still teaching 1 + 1 = 2, but we’re catering the knowledge toward the individual student. We give them more time throughout the day to do what they’re good at and what interests them. What you’ll notice over the course of 12 years is that if teachers end up spending more time dedicated toward what each student is good at, they’ll probably already be excelling at something by the time they reach college. The goal at that point won’t be focused on trying to find their career path - they will have been tracking to it all along.