Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Special Blog Assignment


In “A world where grades will be left behind,” Mary Beth Markelin talks about a type of education where “learning will be free and available to anyone who wants it.” In this world of schooling, failure is out of the question, and lesson plans would involve more game-like situations. She speaks with a man named Sebastian Thrun who said, “You want learning to be as much fun as it is to play a video game.”

Sebastian Thrun
Thrun founded an education company called Udacity after he taught a free online artificial intelligence course that had over 160,000 students enrolled. He loved this experience so much that he vowed to never teach in a classroom again. He compares his journey to two pills: one red, and one blue. The blue pill, if you take it, would lead you right back into a classroom where you can lecture your students. According to Thrun, the red pill, which he took, led him to “Wonderland.”

Through programs like Udacity, Thrun hopes to create online courses that are taught by great professors and would be offered (to anyone who would like to take them) for free. Today, technology allows teachers to personalize their way of educating. Not only is Thrun an example, but his friend Sal Kahn is as well. Kahn inspired the idea of “flipping classrooms,” which I blogged about earlier. There are northern charter schools that are advocating game playing lesson plans; in the west, some schools are hoping to make an online education “as affordable as a cellphone bill.”

Thrun calls grades “the failure of the education system;” he says they will not exist in his system. Instead of being graded on everything, a student will master a skill or a concept at their own pace. Exercises and quizzes will progressively get harder as the class goes along in order to help the student better grasp a concept. In a college classroom, you could be surrounded by hundreds of students; with Thrun’s system, you could be in the same class as hundreds of other students, but your education will only be catered to you.

Thrun compares his education ideas to movies and live theater. Movies did not completely replace live theater. Instead, movies were just another form of entertainment that would allow for more people to view them at a lesser price. Thrun's vision of the future: "a message of hope, of aspiration-- not of destruction."


No Grades
I love the idea of not using a grading system in the classroom. In my opinion, putting a grade on something can stress out the student to the point of just memorizing the material to get the grade, instead of actually comprehending anything. I want my students to be able to reiterate what they learned in my class years after leaving me! Understanding a concept or mastering a skill is much more important than graduating with "straight A's" in my opinion.

I also think that education being free, or close to it, opens up so many opportunities for everyone. Many people have to work to support themselves and/or a family, so they naturally do not have the time or money to put themselves through school. Creating a system with free education, or like stated above, education costing as much as a cellphone bill, would let more people get an education. More educated people would lead to a more educated country. You really cannot argue with that.

In my classroom, I plan to lecture as a last resort. I want to involve my students so that they make a memory while learning. If they can do that, they can better remember what they have learned. Because I will be teaching in a public school, grades will be required. Even with this being so, I do not want my students to hang on to just that. I want them to WANT to come to class everyday. If I can get students excited about learning, I believe the grades will improve themselves.

No comments:

Post a Comment