I’ll take no bullshit for an education thank you…

Imagine this scenario, you’re in a classroom with a professor droning on. You look around. Half the people have their laptops open and are scrolling through Facebook, the other half have a notebook open with a few notes. You look at the eyes of the people around you and you see their eyes glazing over. Everyone is bored out of his or her mind.

Let’s consider why each student is there. The undergrads are there because they have family and friends that have expected them to go to college and get a degree. They likely want a career that requires a college degree.

The grad students are there because they want a better career (if they’ve worked before), or like the undergrads they’re on a track from undergrad to grad school to their dream career.

There are a couple of students there for all the right reasons. They may be undergrads or grad students and they’re there because they are genuinely interested in the topic and they figured that taking that course would allow them to both grow their interest and meet like-minded people. Unfortunately that group is a small number of students and they will likely not achieve the latter goal because the majority of students do not care about anything except their grade.

So let me propose a better model…

Students learn the most from doing projects on the subjects that they care about. Unfortunately this is abused by letting students work on very poorly defined projects. These projects are extremely hard to grade and likely don’t allow the student to grow in the same way as a structured assignment.

So what I propose is structured projects, each project will develop a certain skill with allowing grading to be based on substance. Due to the structure of the assignment students have knowledge of grading a-priori. Further more eliminate lectures. Lectures may be useful for topics such as history, which have engaging lectures, but they’re useless for subjects such as Math and Computer Science, that require heavy amounts of problem solving to learn.

Let’s consider a new school day in which students are learning during class time. You go to class and instead of having desks that face forward, you’re arranged into groups. Each person is working individually on the assignment but has the advantage of the professor walking around and answering questions in a one off and small group forum. Instead of half the class browsing Facebook during class you have the advantage of people paying attention and communicating.

This idea isn’t new, it has successfully been implemented at Montessori schools for younger kids. College clearly needs something similar to this to stay relevant.

Next time you’re in class and bored consider how you could learn the material faster, comprehend more and waste less time.

Please comment if you have a better solution.

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