Friday, October 07, 2005

Related to the last post, this past week I read Edward Humes' School of Dreams, a journalist's account of a year in the life of one of the highest performing public schools in the United States.

One of the most amusing portions of the book detailed a visit to Whiteny High from Neil Bush, bother of the president (the one who's been barred for life from the banking business). Bush, since his scandal, got involved in an education initiative known as Ignite!, which seems to be a software based learning program based on Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences theory. While Gardner's work, which I've just recently gotten familiar with, is interesting on its own merits, the education software turned out to be a set of different games trying to teach school subjects in a variety of ways. When the Whitney students tried it out they quickly figured out the easiest method for each activity, found it trivially easy, and proclaimed it worthless.

In the Q&A session, Bush told the students that the idea was to make education easier for everyone. Some of the students responded that maybe the problem is not that education needs to be easier, but that some students need to work harder. This answer seemed to baffle Bush. Whitney students, btw, are known for the astonishing amount of homework and extra-curriculars they take on in an effort to get placement in the top colleges.

I would love to mention the big science project assigned in physics class, but I don't want to give it all away.

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