With education expected eventually to become a front-burner issue in the Obama administration, it’s important to bear in mind in our zeal to reform schools to meet the demands of the new global economy that no nation in history has been able to create good public schools for all children.
We tend to forget that because of our frustration and anger over the glacial progress made in reducing the huge disparity in educational quality.
Given the realities, what steps can schools now take to better serve their students?
For starters, they need to improve instruction in traditional core subjects, but with far heavier emphasis on teaching strategic foreign languages. English may now be the lingua franca, but Arabic, Farsi and Chinese will be indispensable in the future.
Next, schools need to use modern tools to teach cultural understanding and ethical awareness. For example, schools in England from elementary to secondary, and from secular to religious, have quietly put in place systems that allow teachers to leverage their ability to meet the needs and interests of all students. Even though the schools involved sometimes are thousands of miles apart, lessons on related subject matter are frequently conducted simultaneously. As a result, global classrooms are instantly created that allow students to interact with each other as if they were enrolled in the same school. When done properly, interactive technology engages students, supports teachers and enriches instruction.