Smithers Journal of Education:
WHERE IS EDUCATION'S EQUIVALENT OF THE BOEING 787?
SMITHERS JOURNAL OF EDUCATION #1
WHAT EVERYBODY IN SMITHERS NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT EDUCATION
Thursday 14 July 2016
Over the years, vast progress has been made in countless areas, as for example in powered flight:
Powered flight in 1903. Orville Wright is piloting the Kitty Hawk Flyer — the dark shape is him lying prone, the bottoms of his shoes discernible to the left. So slow is his flight that his brother, Wilbur, is able to run alongside (120 feet in 12 seconds makes for a speed of 6.8 mph, both for the plane and for Wilbur).
Powered flight in 2016 is exemplified by the Boeing 787. The advance in aeronautics is magnificent — and positively breathtaking when you see this passenger jetliner flip into a vertical climb after its tires have barely left the runway (during an airshow rather than a passenger flight, of course):
Farnborough Airshow 2014
Mankind is so innovative and so dedicated to advancement in every field, that one may wonder what comparable achievement has been added to education over the last century that is equivalent to the Boeing 787 achievement in aeronautics.
Looking at what is happening in the classroom doesn't turn up much. The core methodology always has been, and today continues to be, a teacher in front of a classroom dispensing knowledge and wisdom to a passive audience.
Always has been:
And today continues to be:
Although the following is an artist's parody, it does accurately capture that the same core methodology hasn't improved in the university lecture hall either:
But perhaps despite the lack of progress which greets the eye in classroom or lecture hall, it may be student performance that is able to exhibit a Boeing-787-quality education that has been created over the last century?
Well, let's take a look. Here's a Grade 8 math exam from 1912 Kentucky, which we may consider to be century-old math education:
And now let us look for improvement in math education today in the first four questions of a Grade 7 math exam administered by the Ministry of Education in British Columbia:
What the above comparison seems to show is that math today is not at all the Boeing-787-quality math that we were hoping to see. Rather, today's BC Grade 7 math is so elementary that it is doubtful that it would rise to the standard of Kentucky 1912 by Grade 8.
This is as stunning and disturbing an observation as would be the observation that the plane that the Wright brothers jerry-built in 1903 had been for more than a century afterward judged to be the very best plane imaginable, and so had been left unimproved, and even permitted to deteriorate, as for example flying a shorter distance and slower in 2016, and so that almost anybody could run alongside it during its entire 10-second and 6.0-mph voyage, even more easily than Wilbur Wright had run alongside it during its 12-second and 6.8-mph voyage in 1903.
In the field of aeronautics, of course, that level of neglect and stagnation is inconceivable, and could not happen. And in fact in education it also is inconceivable, and has not happened. What has happened is that advances in education have been made, advances as stunning as the advances in aeronautics.
The education advances have indeed been made, but they just haven't yet been introduced into regular classrooms — but if you want to see today's education equivalents of the Boeing 787 vertical take off, there are many available, as for example the one below:
FIRST FOUR QUESTIONS OF
A MATH EXAM
THAT HAS BEEN ACED BY A 12-YEAR-OLD (NOMINALLY IN GRADE 7)
WHO HAS HAD THE ADVANTAGE OF A BOEING-787-QUALITY EDUCATION:
UBC CALCULUS II EXAM
The above does not represent what some rare and gifted student is able to do; it is what even students who have not been thriving in regular school discover that they are able to do. And it is not what becomes possible when students adopt the 80-hour student workweek which typifies some societies which score high in international comparisons; it is what can be accomplished within the 40-hour student workweek which typifies our society, and even without requiring homework during evenings or weekends or holidays. And it is not accomplished by narrowing the curriculum to the core subjects that are to be tested; it is accomplished even while broadening the curriculum to include such areas as art and music and phys ed.
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