Theatre History: Not Just for Drama Nerds

Theatre History: Not Just for Drama Nerds

Looking at the facts of a historical timeline and its major events (often limited to political regime changes or major military exploits) usually gives a very flat perspective of history. Making the push and pull of opinion, philosophy and public discourse come alive; drawing out the rich complexity of human experiences that make up a single dot on that factual timeline can require looking through a particular lens.

Freedom from Education

‘Freedom from education?’ Before you think I am dismissing the very thing that enables me to write this post, hear me out.

Education is more than learning facts

Most American school systems surround metrics of success with standardized forms of testing knowledge. Students are asked to respond to a series of questions with a set of answers. With the right answers, they succeed.  With the wrong answers, they fail (at least the test).

This engine of standardizing education for the masses is understandable if we truly believe that knowledge is held only in the form of fact memorization.  But think of how your schooling has practically affected your life. The facts are helpful and necessary, but it was most likely the training of thinking that remains effective. Knowing a multiplication table by memory is different than knowing how multiplication works and functions within mathematical systems.

Raising Critical Thinkers

The more important goal of education should be to raise critical thinkers who are able to navigate facts and explore new ideas of their own design. Advancing this model of education is what changes the world, because it’s the method that almost surely always has been behind key innovations in the human story.

Critical thinking has become an educational platitude, a buzzword that is reduced in its meaning through overuse. Intelligent Education firmly believes that critical thinking–the ability to analyze and observe facts, evaluate their importance and interaction, and form a coherent perspective for them – is a vital skill in our world today. The citizens of our world today must use these critical thinking skills intentionally and continuously, so that they think critically about everything from a Facebook post to their next step in their career, understanding how each action and interaction reflects their view of the world.

'Freedom from Education'

Therefore, what did I mean by 'Freedom from education?' I’m using it here as a bit of a double entendre. Defining each word is key to understanding this phrase.  

Defining ‘Education’

If we choose to define education as “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university," then our definition of ‘from’ is meant to be indicating separation or removal.  While not all of the actors in the American system of education are culpable, we desire, and need, freedom from the definition of success created by overly systematic forms of education in our world today. The gateways to being a successful student should derive from their ability to apply knowledge, not to simply reply with facts.

Education, defined as “an enlightening experience,” carries the light of learning into the very heart of the learner. There are many metaphors for learning, but the one for light and dark has always stood out. Where there is light, there is understanding, exploration, and knowledge. Darkness is mysterious, elusive, and unknown. By enlightening the heart of the learner, they may carry a little light with them to new stories, new problems, new situations. They are better prepared to use that light to affect their world.  This understanding of education changes the definition of ‘from’ to mean the cause, source of, or provenance from which the freedom flows.

Freedom

Our modern concept of freedom arose from the Enlightenment, when the educated applied their critical thinking to the condition of humanity. No longer did a subject need be submissive to a crown, but each individual could submit themselves to a government “by the People, for the People.” This freedom continued to be expressed in America with the Bill of Rights.  The freedom of thought, speech, and worship derive from critical thought on the ability of humans to govern themselves, according to their own conscience.  These principles are the foundation on which the American form of democracy stands.

Education can be the source, the provenance, the genesis of these freedoms.  Freedom from education means that education can change the world, as well-rounded, critical thinking global citizens engage with arts, sciences, literature, mathematics, and humanities in a manner that deepens their ability to think. 

Intelligent Education seeks to support this mission through our courses and tools for educators. Our courses encourage reflective thinking through journaling exercises, interactive 3D models, and time-tagged notes, which allow learners to engage with the material.  Our series of analysis and commentary books, IE Notes, provide literary insight and analysis on some of the world’s greatest literary works.

Our commitment is to educate the world, because education leads to freedom – freedom from education.

Common Core: What Is It, and Is There a Better Way?

Parents of public schooled and home-schooled children share a common concern. They want their children to receive the best education possible. Teachers also are interested in providing a quality education to the students in their charge. The official statement of the Common Core State Standards defines itself as “a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA).”

For a number of years, both parents and educators expressed concerns about academic accomplishments in U.S. schools and expounded on fears that students were falling behind the proficiency and achievements of their international counterparts. Due to inconsistent standards from state-to-state, there was no agreement on what students should be required to learn in each grade level or what they should know at the end of 12 years of study. What was considered to be a high standard in one state was considered average in another. This problem also led to difficulty in college applications. Without a uniform educational framework for teachers to follow, it′s impossible to attain to a national standard that colleges and universities can accept. Common Core was created to be the cohesive force to unify educational standards for grades K-12 across the country and to assist student success in entry-level career choices, college entrance exams, and technical school acceptance.

The Common Core Goal

Common Core State Standards were created to ensure students have the necessary skills, upon completing high school, to succeed in the next phase of their education or career. The goal, to have all states and territories adopt the program, would allow for students to receive the same quality of educational skills and knowledge regardless of where in the United States they lived.

The Arguments For Common Core

Those who believe in the educational components of Common Core advance several arguments.

Proponents believe adherence to Common Core will result in students being better equipped for competition in a global economy.

Those in favor of Common Core believe it allows the teacher to take charge of the curriculum and determine what information is important for students to know and how it should be delivered.

Some teachers believe Common Core closes the equity gap between high achievers, low-income students, and minorities by requiring them all to meet the same standards. This will eliminate groups of high-performing students being compared with those not able to perform at the same level.

It is stated that Common Core prepares all students for a college education or assists them in being ready for a career upon graduation.

The Arguments Against Common Core

While proponents of Common Core claim it prepares U.S. students for a global economy, opponents, such as the TFP Student Action organization, believe it merely is preparing them to be workers or”cogs in the great twenty-first century global economy machine.”

Opponents claim Common Core advocates are unable to provide proof that uniform educational standards will create an educated population. Prior to its release, there was no review by educators, specialists, or parents.

The program was created by two non-profit organizations that are corporate-funded. Only fifteen-percent of the standards are subject to modification by schools and teachers. The remainder cannot be modified in any manner by anyone other than the non-profits.

Common Core prevents parents from having any say in their child′s education. It eliminates parents and teachers working together to use an approach that works best for a specific child.

A one-size-fits-all approach is the basis for what Common Core proponents feel is best for students. It doesn′t allow for the creativity educators have always considered critical for students with a variety of learning styles and abilities.

Student privacy is violated because Common Core mines the personal data of the students including their sex practices, political affiliations, and religious beliefs.

There are dozens of ideas to replace the Common Core State Standards program. Most of them include giving more power to the states, teachers, and parents to make curriculum decisions. Goals 2000, No Child Left Behind, and Common Core are all government promoted programs that left the local teachers and the parents out of the loop during their implementation.

Future of Common Core

No one knows for sure what the new Education Secretary has in store for U.S. school children for the next four years. She is a strong advocate for school choice. There are many parents hoping for a new option that will provide a variety of options for their children. Various state legislatures are looking at possible options to replace Common Core that will allow them to set their own state standards. Classroom teachers responsible for implementing whatever standards are chosen should have a say in their creation. Educators work directly with the students and know the teaching methods that work the best.

For decades parents unhappy with public school offerings have opted to educate their children at home. Each state has its own laws regulating home schools, and some are more stringent than others. It is a popular choice for parents who want control over what their children learn. Home-schooled children often rank higher in testing than their public school counterparts.

Whether Common Core stays in place for now or another option is presented, parents are sure to want a say in their child′s education. Unless a private education is affordable, a parent′s only choice is to send their children to public schools or teach them at home. Additional education options are needed. As new ideas are presented, expect a chorus of pros and cons for each one.

Where does Intelligent Education fit in?

We’re not on the scene to destroy or disrupt the current education model. Rather, we acknowledge, along with most of you, that there are holes that need to be filled, and reinforcement that needs to be brought to bear on our education system. Some students clearly are being challenged less than is ideal, and others are being forced to move on without a full grasp of their topic, which is the foundation of their future learning.

We are excited to bring experienced practitioners and experts on numerous topics into our education platform, which can be used to supplement both private and public education, as well as education in the home. Our platform allows students to dive deep into topics that are both necessary and that interest them, helping them more fully understand what they need to move forward in their education and follow the threads of their curiosity. It’s about learning to love learning, which is really the best tool we could put in their toolbox.

If you are interested at implementing Intelligent Education′s online learning model in any home or learning institution, let′s talk. We are equipped to bring a new and excited platform in a meaningful way to high school and higher education institutions, and to help home school families, co-ops or cohorts implement our courses (or build new ones) to supplement their curriculum. Reach out to us at connect@intelligent.education for more information.

Beethoven′s: Symphony No. 5 in 360°

360° media has compelled content creators to re-think how we approach storytelling, and to experiment with new ways to capture an experience. Immersion, a long-time buzzword in digital media, is starting to finally mean something. But what does it mean for education?

This symphonic experience, particularly in a VR headset and at its highest quality setting, is a vivid example of what′s around the corner in digital media and education. Here, from the heart of the orchestra, the barrier between “us” and “them” is dissolved. You can practice empathy, of sorts, as you suspend your disbelief and separation, and merge audience and performer.

 

To Foster a Love of Reading

To Foster a Love of Reading

Reading is important to me, and the questions I’ve just asked have honestly haunted me. A love of reading in a kid lends to deeper empathy, richer vocabulary, better learning retention, and so much more. It contributes to discipline, how boredom is handled, and it can even open career doors and life opportunities. I want that for my kids. Who doesn’t?