I was brainstorming yesterday how we might fix our schools in America. Let me make it clear that I don't blame the teachers. I point to the culture of our children and youth, who are attention deficit and chaotic in general. I've long got the impression that little gets done in many American classrooms, having had four children go through the public schools. Yelling doesn't change things. Other teachers try to hold attention for just a few minutes of instruction and then inevitably let the class "work on homework," which more or less means chaos for the rest of the time.
Since the kids are the presenting issue, it doesn't matter if you give them vouchers to private schools--the advanced classes are often no different from the regular ones. And go look up the Bastille in Wikipedia if you think ignoring the lowest socio-economic factor in some sort of meritocracy has any long term merit. I wait for the prophet who has ideas on how to change our homes to produce children with a different potential for schooling.
All that is background. I was thinking yesterday that, at this point, we really need to shift away from corporate teaching and toward one-on-one instruction. If we could somehow arrange ten minutes an hour of one-on-one conversation between a teacher and a student, we would probably accomplish way more than we are accomplishing now. When temperament allowed, we could even have one-on-three or four instructional moments. Maybe some one-on-four groups could go for twenty minutes an hour.
Basically, the ideal would be for all students to have their own IEP (Individualized Education Plan) modeled on a one-on-one, 10 minute atom of instruction. Certain clusters of temperaments might allow molecules of slightly more students with slightly more time. The amount of paperwork associated with these atoms should be minor so that teachers can teach rather than spend hours reporting on teaching.
In the meantime, the intervening chaos between instruction should be managed instead of let to go free. Sports, games, shop, skills, video games--they're already wasting most of their school time. Plan it and it is no longer chaos but a culture of fun, a spoonful of sugar. It makes school a fun place.
And I categorically believe that it is much better for most students to be in this environment than at home. The homes of America--and the streets--are where the default chaos is perpetuated and advanced.
A few thoughts, for anyone who might be listening...