Ethnographic Notes D – Changing Education Paradigms by Erik, Michele, Emilee

The RSA Animate titled Changing Education Paradigms does a good job of explaining part of the problem with the education system.

Sir Ken Robinson points out that the system we have is based on a theory of education that was developed a long time ago and does not apply well to our modern environment. Sir Robinson also points out that there is a vast difference in how we teach students versus how they can learn things online. In the classroom quite often you must sit still and listen to a lecture in many cases. Online there are multimedia presentations with animated drawing and data visualizations. While at the same time you can indulge in a game here and catch up with friends while the video is playing.

I have thought about the problems outlined in Sir Robinson’s lecture for quite sometime. While I don’t think I have all of the answers I do think my perspective on the issue worth sharing. The first paradigm shift that we need to focus on is what it is about computers and the Internet that is affecting students in regards to the existing education system. It is more than just that there are flashy infographics and videos to look at. The truly paradigm shifting nature of the Internet and increasingly small and powerful computing devices is the distribution of the ability to educate oneself. Say for example that I am taking an Algebra course. What is more convenient? Going to a classroom where someone lectures to me and 40 other kids or going to a resource like the Khan Academy and watching their videos on Algebra and then practicing my Algebra skills with the practice problems they then provide. This is just one example of freely available online schools that are available for those motivated to learn. This is a major first step in answering the question of how to educate our children for the future by meeting them where they are.



One of the major problems I identified with in this lecture was the fact that we medicate our children too much. While I don’t have a doctor’s degree I think parents try to medicate their kids way too much.  I know when I went through school we weren’t given drugs to medicate us to help us focus to learn.  I have been in different classroom environments and every teacher had a different way of teaching.  Some teachers are more into documentaries and taking notes from a text book then having tests.  I seem to enjoy and learn more from these classes.  Where other teachers had a way of teaching that was lectures but also incorporated games into them that made learning fun. We need to make educating children fun again.  Not just lecturing or working out of a book.  Making it easier for the children to understand what they are learning and applying it to the real world.

I also found the point of educating our kids because they are a certain age completely insane.  I know parents whose children are bored at school and its because they are being dumbed down because they are way to advanced in that subject(s).  I have a lot of teachers in my family and my uncle is the Superintendent of a school system here in Washington. If they notice this they will test the child and pull them out of that subject and put them in another class.  So that they don’t feel the need to act out or not pay attention in class.  I would think this would be a better way to teach our children is to test them at a young age and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are and apply them to the proper classes at that point.


It’s true that children are being medicated for behavioral “problems” at an alarming rate (at least 9%) in the U.S. I recently came across an article in Psychology Today and the headline was “Why kid’s in France don’t have ADHD”. In France the percentage of children being diagnosed is less than .5% (half a percent, not 5%!). This is very telling in terms of the contrast of American culture and other countries that do not use prescriptions such as Ritalin and Adderall on such a widespread basis. This is a symptom of the philosophy that governs medical community in America as well as the educational system. It could be argued that this is a cyclical issue as suggested in the video. Because the current educational system is structured in such a way that children are either not challenged or they are being taught in ways that is not beneficial to their learning “style”, we have a kind of one dimensional formula that no only benefits a small percentage of students at best, but creates behavioral issues that are not contusive to the current public education system. In order to fix this, there needs to be a renovation of the current system.

finnish-kidsThe RSA Animate titled Changing Education Paradigms does a good job of explaining part of the problem with the education system.
If I had executive power to decide where to start reforming Americas education system would be to look to the model’s of other countries who have managed to find successful methods of education and how this affects students later in life. One example would Finland. The Organization for Economic CO-operation conducts a study once every three year on order to measure the performance of reading, math, and science. Finland was number one from 2000 to 2009. This is saying something considering they beat out super-powers in education such as South Korea and Singapore. Children are assigned less homework and partake in more creative play” according to an article from 2011 in The Atlantic” and here are no standardized tests. The articles states that “Instead, the public school system’s teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves”. An explanation as to why this works is that teachers are prestigious members of society in Finland. The minimum education level to be a teacher requires a Masters degree.

Policy makers will eventually need to reform the American education system in a way that caters to the diverse needs of students and hopefully this will happen sooner than later.

Works Cited:

“What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success.” The Atlantic. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2013.

“Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD” Psychology Today. Web 16 May 2013.


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