Fitting the kid to the code

posted Sep 29, 2014, 5:02 AM by Michael Schoeffler   [ updated Sep 30, 2014, 7:22 PM ]
Seat good, legs too short.

Parents are dreamers. We're always thinking of the future. Ever since the little nippers appeared. 

So how do we help our kids grow into good people with great lives? And keep them from starring on a reality TV show? 

Education shines here, but there's an enormous problem. We simply can't afford private tutors for our children. 

All in all you're just another brick in the wall

America's answer? We built factory-style schools for the entire nation. Teach millions, cater to none. Schools do their work pretty well, but break down at the human level. 

Even the best teacher can only teach one lesson at a time. Which means the entire class moves at the same speed, whether your child is bored or behind. And that leads to problems.

Ghost in the machine

Education technology has the opposite issue. Lessons can be personalized - two students can learn different subjects at the same time while sitting five feet from each other.

But you ever watch kids who spend too much time on the computer? They're either glassy-eyed and bored or manic from overcaffeinated graphics. I've been there myself - I pumped more quarters into Defender than you can imagine.

The problem? Few children are wired to spend their days alone with a computer. Teachers and classmates can make your kids' learning that much richer. They crave competition and praise, teamwork and fun, guidance and goals.

Education for real children

It's time to stop fitting kids into cookie-cutter classes (or code-based education). It's time to build education around the child. And it's time to dream large. 

Here's where to start ...
  1. Use educational software only where it's amazing - leave other topics for those carbon-based teachers. So far, the only site to hit the mark is Khan Academy (math), but others are coming up. I'll explain more in a future post.
  2. Customize education to your kids. If you unleash them in the endless internet, they'll get lost. Figure out exactly what subjects your children need and keep them on track.
  3. Involve other kids in ed tech. Friends - and healthy competition - are important to having fun and gathering up knowledge. Start by pulling in like-minded parents so your kids don't feel like they're working alone.
Work these problems out and you'll see more than better grades. You'll watch your dreams find life.  Children who enjoy learning don't require nagging. 

And kids who aren't nagged hear the real lessons you're teaching.