Open Source Education

With the numerous planned cuts to education around the world people are desperately searching for solutions to the educational crisis. Can open source educational platforms fix the challenges of providing quality education in todays world?

Within the 2012 budgets of many federal and state programs exist necessary cuts to many programs. The challenge exists to continue providing quality education to the masses in a format that can achieve greater results than our current model of education can provide.

Challenges with our current model include;
1 To few teachers per student.
2 Lack of relativity to the material
3 Single model of educational delivery

To few teachers per student is a common complaint of educators and parents. Without personal time with the teacher many students that need extra help can monopolize a teachers time. This situation can also create a disservice to those who only need occasional help because they too are unable to access assistance when they need it. However low pay, poor hours, high expectations and now educational budget cuts make the potential of higher student teacher ratios unlikely.

Lack of relativity to the material.
Many young people, and adults reflecting on their education show that many teachers are unable to bridge the generational gaps effectively to provide students with an understanding of how the material being covered is relative to their individual goals and dreams. From my own experience I can remember asking my calculus professor how to apply what we were learning so that I could comprehend the material easier. I was told “if you aren’t going to be a rocket scientist you’ll never use it.” Huh? Does anyone else think this attitude is anti-learning? So why should someone study something that even the teacher cannot make relative to my own personal goals. A 17 year old recently told me she could “find the answers on google” to any problem she faces so why should she study the material? Even her teachers could not argue with her logic.

Single model of educational delivery.
A retired teacher recently advised me that every school was the same. How to teach, the expectation of teaching etc. were always the same. Our current model says each student should learn by sitting in a classroom throughout the day listening to lectures. Anyone who has ever attended a long uneventful meeting at work can attest that sitting still listening to someone else talk about material that is non-relavent is not an effective method of learning. Even doctors now ask new patients how they prefer to receive material; by reading, hearing, or visual presentation. Another absurd assumption is that each student is able of turning their mind toward the subject currently being taught, which changes every 30-45 minutes throughout the school day.

Solutions to our current educational crisis discussed throughout this blog are capable of being solved at a relatively low cost by changing the method in which we expect education to be delivered. If Isaac Newton was sitting in class hearing lectures rather than sitting under a tree observing nature in action would he have been able to make the leap required to explain gravity?
Throughout our history the greatest minds have all been free to pursue their educational pursuits in methods that worked for them as an individual. Perhaps what is needed is a shift in thinking about what education really is. No-one I talk to agrees that theory alone is enough to truly educate a person. They must experience, experiment, and apply their knowledge in a manner that works with their personal goals.
Could technology and open source material, such as the training I go through for free provided by wordpress in how to make this a better blog provide a more useful method of educational delivery?
In my own life my family is privately educating our 2 year old son via private tutors. Homeschooling nationwide is seeing an increase with much better results than are being seen in public education. Why is this?
While recently reading The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori she discusses the necessity of the individual to learn independently and that educators should be observers. It is necessary for the student to have liberty. Freedom to pursue their educational goals with minimum teaching.
In an age of shrinking liberties in formerly free republics and increasing oportunities for liberty in formerly communist and dictatorial societies such as Egypt, Lybia, czechoslovakia or other regions of the world opening up to new potential one faces a great age of potential.  Potential for good or evil.  We know through our physics education that all matter takes shape when you give it attention so lets use that knowledge to create the positive outcome.  Lets take the freely available resources to a starving area of the world utilizing the technological revolutions that we have available to us.

Only time will tell I guess but I hope that opportunities present themselves in a manner that allows me to ride the front of the wave instead of the back.


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