The traditional sit-and-get model of school is being swept aside, unevenly to be sure, but as certainly as a rising tide swirling up the beach. We see evidence everywhere, examples that were hard to find just a few years ago. Here are two more that came across my lazy August reading days:
The medical school at the University of Vermont has said goodbye to lectures. Starting in 2019 the medical school will now focus solely on active learning. In the article on NPR, the dean of the medical school says:
It turns out that the lectures are not really good at engaging the learners in doing something. And I think that’s the most important part of learning. We’re finding out a lot from the neuroscience of learning that the brain needs to accumulate the information, but then also organize it and make sense of it and create an internal story that makes the knowledge make sense.
When you just tell somebody something, the chances of them remembering it diminishes over time, but if you are required to use that information, chances are you’ll remember it much better.
Isn’t it great that smart people like doctors at medical schools are remembering John Dewey?! In my new book, Moving the Rock, I report on another medical school, Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine, that took a similar leap when they opened seven years ago. Everyone thought they were nuts, and now they are one of the most highly ranked medical schools in the country.
And this, (HT to Twitter colleague Christian Talbot at BaseCamp): For the last four years, a start-up in China, VIPKid, has been matching English-learning Chinese students with virtual language teachers in Canada and the U.S. According to their site they have been adding something like 1,000 new teachers a month (I am sure they have attrition as well), with teachers on this side of the pond making a nice addition to what is all-too-frequently a low salary.
Is this model good for hard-working teachers or their own students? Is it better than face-to-face classes or automated language-learning software? I don’t know. But connecting an almost infinite demand of rising Chinese youngsters with a supply of English-speaking teachers is another example of markets that are not going to stand still just because we have had a decades-long relationship with our monolithic system of education.
I am sure someone else has said something like this before me, but here is my thinking in a short burst:
If you think you are too big, too successful, too well-entrenched, too politically secure, or too well-loved to be disrupted out of business in the next decade, you are probably wrong.