Education, Change and Progress: How can Innovation be Secure and Constructive at the Same Time?

As people grow and learn to pay more attention to life and its realities, they develop a certain taste for learning important things and educating themselves. Such a reality has produced entire unique systems of education in virtually every part of the world and with the introduction of modernity a couple of centuries ago, it became a legal requirement for all citizens of modern day states and societies to send their children to public or private schools to receive education in languages, science, mathematics and other academic subjects. When education became a necessity for young people, their responsibilities grew larger at an earlier age than before as well. Whether it be attending every class and taking notes, studying privately to score higher on exams or writing a stellar resume, youngsters of today are almost always battling with school work which creates de-motivation among some of such individuals. Therefore, the rewards associated with such a time-consuming and rigorous struggle should also be in line with the students’ expectations from life and the future, which means that modern day education should regarded as a professional field of its own. Proper measures and techniques should be applied to education to maximize efficiency in learning, while the ambitions and enthusiasm of the students and educators alike should also be preserved and enhanced.

Josef Blumenfeld for the Huffington Post reports on the status of education in the Greater Boston area by comparing and contrasting Beaver Country Day School and Bunker Hill Community College, which are almost directly opposite educational projects. The first school educates students whose families earn less than $35,000 while the second school costs $45,000 to study, which means that the two institutions operate on totally different methodologies and structures but regardless, both are leaders in education in their specific region. By relying on their leaders to rewrite rules and explore educational opportunities, the schools have been noticed by even the mainstream media as both schools house students take pride in the success stories of their distinguished students. The schools also constantly invest into new infrastructure, such as Beaver’s new Research and Design Center to keep up with the growing demands of the 21st Century education. Bunker Hill on the other hand is also a quite well-resourced institution, mainly utilizing public funds, political support, and important corporate relationships to educate its students who come from the other four-fifths and are usually the first member of their families to receive higher education. The institution offers an on-campus food pantry, off-hours and weekend classes and the “Learn and Earn” program which assigns students to real-life jobs in real companies in Boston. Therefore, Blumenfeld concludes that it is vision and innovation which bring these two supposedly opposing schools together. This observation also leads the author to conclude that in the new age of global education, any institution regardless of its associations or affiliations, can succeed in becoming an educational powerhouse if it places its students as the first priority and allocates the proper resources for proper reasons.    

Sieva Kozinsky for Wired magazine considers innovation as a problematic issue within the context of education and believes that the capitalist mentality which drives innovation in today’s world does not correlate with the most fundamental and basic principles of true education. The problem with “innovative education” according to Kozinsky is that most of the innovative methods and approaches are easily brushed off as non-utile and inferior by the status quo which not only discourages those who invented them but also label them as failure and inferior as well. Plus, the fact that students are taught in very similar ways all around the world, little innovation actually exists with respect to methodology and therefore most of the supposed “innovative methodologies” are just farce. As alternative approaches to teaching and learning are  considered to be “eccentric and uncommon” by the majority of the general public, there always exists room and reason for innovation but the timing of such innovation is very crucial. Kozinsky refers to “Blended Learning”, or as it is also known “Flipped Classroom” as saviors for struggling students in convential systems to give the example of Clintondale High where the system was adapted only a short while ago and the school’s college acceptance rate already rose by seventeen points. Kozinsky points out that the reason why this specific method succeeded is that it integrates sophisticated information technologies to reach out to students and to recieve feedback to be utilized to further perfect the system. Kozinsky concludes that by 2019, 50% of all high school classes wil be taught online and systems like “Blended Learning” will succeed in completely revolutionizing education in the United States. However, there will also be failures and disappointments along the way as a normal part of a scientific trial with reality and it is important to pay attention to the crucial elements of technological innovation to make sense of the whole ordeal, both as students and educators.

Chester E. Finn, Jr. And Brandon Wright for Newsweek magazine report on the issue of lagging and falling behind for American students which so far has made it impossible fo them to achieve their truest and fullest potentials. Statistically speaking, in 2012, the US ranked 17th in reading, 20th in science and 27th in mathematics in a research conducted on the scores of Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exams in all the 34 countries of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). Additionally, most of the American high achievers come from the more wealthy and privileged sects of the society which constitutes a grave problem as well: America leaves its unprivileged children and youngsters unattended and without proper educational support. With superficial programs such as “No Child Left Behind” the US government has managed to boost failing students to a minimum level of intelligence and capability while ignoring the talented and intelligent students at the expense of their careers and future lives. As a result, the educational system in America manages to provide some opportunity and possibility for the under-achieving majority who manage to finish schools, get diplomas and find jobs but discriminate against the talented and intelligent minority who can bring about serious improvements and innovations to the under-achieving system easily when guided and trained properly. Disregarding the “elitism” accusation thrown at people who defend such an idea, the authors Finn and Wright state that in the majority of the fast growing and developing societies of the world, such as Taiwan, Japan and China, the talents and inclinations of the intelligent minority are taken into consideration when constructing educational strategies and policies. This way, such societies benefit from constructive and utile discoveries and contributions by such individuals which improve on the most fundamental and important aspects of life, ranging from science to politics, from arts to business.