Shavano Institute Conference: “Defining the Risks: Diagnoses and Cures”

Al Shanker begins by commenting on government funding to education. He notes that there has been an increase in funding, but he questions whether this has really changed educational results. He says that incentives besides money need to be developed in order to retain good teachers. Next, he turns to the main topic of his talk: whether the nation is still at risk, referring to a 1983 government report “A Nation at Risk.” Shanker answers affirmatively that the nation is indeed still at risk, citing a recent report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The report highlights the low achievement of America's students. He says that the entire approach to education is wrong, noting that students are not empty vessels into which teachers pour information. Rather, he argues, students should be engaged as active players in their learning. They are not products on an assembly line, but workers. Shanker urges innovation and restructuring in schools. He gives the example of a school in Cologne, Germany that has turned the typical school model on its head. In this school, 30 students are not required to sit still and quietly listen to one teacher for many hours. Or, students are not asked to move subjects every 45 minutes. He encourages America's teachers to think outside the box to find new models like the one in Germany.

Indianapolis, IN
17 pages
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