We are educating the wrong end of the student
John Merrow had an interesting post on the Huffington Post. It was primarily about blended learning and how blended learning, especially its online component, can destroy the notion of seat-time as a measure of how we move kids through school by giving students the power to progress at their own rate. One barrier to students progressing at their own rate is textbooks, he notes, because they are limited to a grade level. He contrasts that to over 200 math lessons going well into high school math that he saw on a 6th grade student's iPad. In fairness to the textbook pubishers, they provide what the states and school districts ask for.
An obvious additional barrier to moving to competency as opposed to seat-time is the typical funding formula that pays schools based on the number of days kids spend in schools rather than what they learn. There is little incentive to moving them on faster if they can do the work.
This brings to mind two metaphors – one was a rallying cry in the 80's on behalf of technology: blow up the 2x4x6x9x12 paradigm of schools. Translated, technology can blow apart the 2 covers of the textbook, 4 walls of the classroom, 6 periods of the day, 9 months of the school year, and 12 years of traditional school.
And back to seat-time, we are educating the wong end – the seat – of the child rather than the head and heart.