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Changing Education Paradigms: Challenging the way we think about Education

This is a very interesting video that examines some of the big picture issues regarding education: The historical origins of our educational model, the decline of the arts in school, the rise of standardized testing and the American "epidemic" of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

There are many ways which our systematic, increasingly standardized approach to education is failing to provide for the unique educational needs of students. This animated talk by Sir Ken Robinson addresses the historic origins of American public education, the role it played in society at the time, and how that conception is shaping a generation of students today.

I love big picture ideas, and I resonated with the role that our approach to education has in the increase of ADHD treatments. In the wake of the progressive trend to standardize curriculum and give students standardized tests, with the goal of producing measureable judgements on the quality of each teacher, each school district and our nations education as a whole, we are getting away from focusing on the individualized needs of our students. As a result, students are being left behind. To address the needs of those left behind, we have the legal protections afforded under IDEA to ensure that these students are making meaningful progress towards their educational goals.

However, in order to qualify for these services, we are forced to label students with ADHD, Specific Learning Disorder, or Austism Spectrum Disorder. These three disabilities have been diagnosed at higher rates over time, even though the diagnostic criteria sometimes varies from state to state. The good news is that we have learned a lot about how to meet the needs of these "different" children. Unfortunately, the mere act of labeling a child carries with it a unique stigma, and many parents are hesitant to burden their child with the label. I regret that our education system defines students as "disabled" if they struggle to absorb and regurgitate information in the context of a traditional low-stimulus, lecture-based classroom environment. We tend to set goals and operate under a deficit paradigm: we have to fix the students' lack of understanding. As a teacher, I would appreciate a greater flexibility in terms of structure and curriculum so that I could focus on the strengths of my students, and use those to address their educational needs.

What do you think about this video? What are your thoughts about the American Education system and its current trends of standardizing curriculum (Common Core) and tests? (No Child Left Behind) What role do teacher evaluation programs have in this discussion?

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