Three tidbits from Governor King's Presentation. (I may not remember all of this perfectly, but it's close.) He talked about a foreign exchange student from China that's currently living with his family. She's 16 and was initially placed in trigonometry/pre-calculus. After about three weeks the teacher called home and said she should be moved up to Calculus. After about 3 more weeks the teacher called home again and said she should be moved up to AP Calculus and should be on the math team. Governor King said the most interesting thing about this is that the girl said she's not even considered good at math at home . . .
The second story he told was that the student told him that at home they hate school vacations. When he asked why, she said it was because they are expected to study 8 hours a day during school vacations . . .
Finally, he mentioned that one of the first things she did when she got here was to ask to go to a bookstore, where she purchased an ACT/SAT prep book and started working on it (in English, of course) . . .
Now, I don't necessarily agree with the idea of studying 8 hours a day on vacation, or that every student should take AP Calculus. But the point the Governor was making is the same point Thomas Friedman and a whole bunch of other people are making as well. In a flat world, where several billion people are stepping onto the playing field that never had the chance before, things are going to be different. What has worked for us in the United States in the past in terms of preparing our kids for the future is not going to work now. We desperately need to find a way to communicate this to our students (and their parents) and change the entire culture we have surrounding education. Because there are several billion hungry (both figuratively and literally in some cases) people out there that are more than willing to work hard at their own education. Who are going to seize the technology and use the tools and skills of the 21st century to compete in a global, 24/365 economy.
And we're not ready. We're too busy eating junk food, watching American Idol, and reading about Brangelina. Now, we may not be able to change America overnight, but surely we can make a dent at AHS. But we need a plan for how to communicate this to our students and their parents. Any suggestions?