As I finish out my service as a public school teacher I have come to several conclusions about the educational system. Even at its best, there is still too much wrong to just fix it. I echo the words of Sir Ken Robinson, "We need to rebuild it from the ground up."
I believe some of those who have already started in new directions have gotten part of it right. Those who are flipping the classroom so content is learned for homework are 100% correct. But I diverge from them about the classwork. The single best way to teach anyone, young or old, is through social education.
At its heart, social education is as concerned with the classroom environment as it is with meaningful cooperative learning. A recent evaluator had this to say about my classroom environment. "Students show respect and caring for Mr. Eisenstein and for each other." They also said, "He truly makes learning math a fun experience for his students." This is what I am saying needs to be at the core of all classwork. Learning should always be a fun, socially positive, collaborative experience.
I have seen the effects of this nurturing environment over long years with the children and I see it also with the adults through Purplearn. Everyone enjoys positive social interactions and those kind of interactions enhance the entire experience. All people learn best when they are having fun.
Another benefit to this kind of socially positive learning environment is that it steeps the children in correct and respectful social behavior. There is no bullying or hating in my classroom. The children learn positive, correct social interaction by modeling and by practicing every day. This creates a positive feedback loop of respect, enthusiasm and fun that the children want and need. If this was ubiquitous, most behavior problems would vanish.
My system has been refined to the point where daily procedures and peer interactions are routine and easily repeatable. I have been teaching this system to teachers through staff development seminars and even those professionals with their own working systems have told me they are incorporating many of my ideas. For now I am speaking with one person and one group at a time, but I know that social education is the future of all learning for everyone.
If you would like me to speak to your group, email me at DavidEisenstein@purplearn.com and I will be happy to discuss it with you.