Our current educational system is based on a model which is a century old. It is basically a system focused on lectures and books, on “seat time” and academic years and on summer breaks which facilitate the harvest of crops. It is analogous to driving surreys and cultivating our crops with mules. Isn’t it about time to design a modern educational system tailored to the needs of each individual student?

Schools no longer need bricks and mortar, 50-minute class sessions or nine-month school years. What they do need is computers with access to the Internet, educational mentors or advisers and access to online instruction and educational materials. Each student should have an individualized learning plan and be allowed to progress at his or her own pace, being able to complete his or her secondary education in a few months or over a period of years.

Instruction should be project- and research-based. Rather than sitting in class and reading a textbook, students would be given a series of research and problem-solving assignments. Successful completion of these assignments would result in the student advancing to the next level. Kids are smart, inquisitive and computer savvy. They can do much of the work on their own, but would have a physical or online mentor to assist them when they needed some guidance.

Think how much time and money we could save and, at the same time, how much more creative students would be by graduating from such an educational system.

I hope this letter will encourage our community to have a meaningful discussion about the future of our educational system and our children’s future.

DON McDANIEL

Astoria

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