kitchen table math, the sequel: Bob Compton likes surprises

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bob Compton likes surprises

After 30 years and six Blue Ribbon panels how can .. discussion [of the challenges facing America's public education system] be "ground breaking." Have some new, unknown challenges suddenly sprung up??

As Intel CEO Craig Barrett - who served on 4 of the 6 Blue Ribbon panel - has stated publicly, all the reports say the same thing. There has not been a fresh idea in 30 years. We know the problems - we just don't have the guts to address them.

Unless you consider it gutsy to use celebrity influencers as the way to "maximize the potential of our nation's young minds - expensive, yes. Gutsy...I think not.

If America would just listen to Craig Barrett we'd be half way to a world class education. The steps are simple:

1- set the curriculum to the same level of difficulty as your economic competitors (sort of like training to win in a globally competitive sport - train as intensely as your competitors and you may have a shot)

2- hire teachers with Masters degrees in the discipline they are to teach and then coach them on being effective teachers. It is much easier to coach an MS in Physics on how to teach, than to coach an Education major to be a physicist. Try it at home; see for yourself.

3- measure results - use the AP exams as national standards and test to see how students and teachers are progressing.

Has anyone other than a few US Charter schools (and 400 million Indians and Chinese) tried that simple formula?

ding! ding! ding!

I know the answer to that.

The Jesuits.

(How did I not know Bob Compton had a blog??)


Bob Compton, Exec Producer 2 Million Minutes said...

I am not an expert on the Jesuit model of education, but I'm aware enough to know they do a lot right in delivering quality education.

If the Jesuit middle/high schools have added 4 years of math, physics, chemistry, biology and computer science taught by instructors with MS or PhD's in their field, then I would say the Jesuit schools have a world-standard curriculum.

Then the question becomes - can we replicate the Jesuit model across America?

I don't know enough about their pedagogy to comment, but certainly if kids are learning at a global level in Jesuit schools, we have something to learn from them.

Bob Compton
Executive Producer
Two Million Minutes

Anonymous said...

Course offerings at Jesuit high schools may have changed a great deal since I looked at one in the 90s, but at that time they did not offer the AP sciences or foreign languages that were offered in many local public schools.(I posted about Wootton HS) One of our sons was being recruited, but was not interested. A friend, who would not be at the AP level at his public school, did attend this school because it gave him a stronger curriculum. At that time, none of the feeder Catholic private schools offered foreign languages in 7th-8th grades, but many of the public schools offered two full years. I'm sure there are lots of options; it's just a matter of finding the right fit.

Catherine Johnson said...

Hi Bob!

I am a huge fan of your movie --- had no idea you have a blog!

I'll get a link up on the sidebar pronto.

btw, my son loved the movie --- I think it's a terrific film to show middle school kids. He wasn't intimidated (parents are the ones getting intimidated!); he was just completely fascinated by the lives of the teens on screen.

Catherine Johnson said...

As to the Jesuits, they have only done high schools, to my knowledge - and their real strength is the humanities. That goes way back in history; it's path dependency.

HOWEVER, they are all about college prep, which means they are all about preparing high school students to major in math/science in college if that's the direction they take.

Catherine Johnson said...

"Hogwarts," the school my son is attending, is unfortunately accepting an MS in education as the advanced degree. One of my projects will be to try to talk them out of that.

However, the teachers all have Bachelors degrees in the subject they teach, and some have Masters and/or Ph.Ds in the subject matter.

Catherine Johnson said...

I looked at one in the 90s, but at that time they did not offer the AP sciences or foreign languages that were offered in many local public schools

This was a Jesuit school?

That's not good.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm going to guess that Jesuit schools have gone downhill along with public schools -- ALTHOUGH I think it's possible they've resisted the tide more than other schools.

Still and all, they exist inside a culture; they would have to be influenced by that culture to some degree.

Catherine Johnson said...

In terms of duplication, KIPP schools are probably similar to Jesuit boys schools. Mathews has a line in his KIPP book (& btw I realize Mathews has not been friendly to the Two Million Minutes thesis) about the KIPP schools reminding people of old-time Catholic schools.

high joy/high discipline