Op-ed: U.S. schools are doing it wrong

David Edwards writes in Wired that American schools are not preparing students for the challenges of the coming decades:

The global climate will continue to change. To save our coastlines, and maintain acceptable living conditions for more than a billion people, we need to discover new science, engineering, design, and architectural methods, and pioneer economic models that sustain their implementation and maintenance. Microbiological threats will increase as our traditional techniques of anti-microbial defense lead to greater and greater resistances, and to thwart these we must discover new approaches to medical treatment, which we can afford, and implement in ways that incite compliance and good health.

Traditional math, reading, and memorization will not give us the tools to solve these problems Edwards argues. What will? A new school of teaching that look less like learning and more like making.

At Harvard University, where I teach, Peter Galison, in History of Science, asks his students make films, to understand science; Michael Chu, in business, brings students to low income regions to learn about social entrepreneurship; Michael Brenner, in Engineering and Applied Science, invites master chefs to help students discover the science of cooking; and Doris Sommer, in Romance Languages, teaches aesthetics by inviting students to effect social and political change through cultural agency.

Read Edwards’s entire call to action here.

  • FarmGirlWithPitchfork

    Well, if we want to have US schools, get it Correct, we probably need new leadership in federal committees. With Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa retiring, the Senate committee for Education must have a new leader. If Majority of the Senate swings to the Republicans and Mitch McConnell is still a Senate Leader, a #ScienceDenier will probably be the next Senate chair. In the House, MN2 Congressman John Kline is chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and has few legislative achievements in his four years as chair. Would he accomplish anything in two more years of chairmanship? His record so far is to protect for-profit schools of higher learning and raise student loan rates so students pay more revenue to the federal government to help reduce the deficit.

  • Everett

    Does Edwards provide any evidence that schools are all about memorization or is he relying on hazy memories of his own schooling decades ago? Getting pretty sick of op eds based on guesses about modern schools.