The Washington Post have published a piece by Ted Dintersmith, a venture capitalist who has visited schools across America in order to write a book.
There are valid criticisms to make about the American education system and its accountability regime, but Dintersmith largely avoids these in favour of rolling out progressivist tropes with a twist of jobs-that-don’t-exist-yet. As ever, it is presented as if Dintersmith has come up with these ideas himself, rather than having borrowed them from a centuries-old tradition.
Immediately after he talks about the hollowing out of jobs due to technology, he claims to have no axe to grind and no bias to uphold. He then goes on to favour, without much in the way of explanation, hands-on learning and project work and he criticises curricula for having too much content and tests for assessing low-level procedures (I’m imagining things like adding two two-digit numbers together here).
To Dintersmith, innovation in education means embracing the approaches that he likes. By his definition, he is surprised that so many schools are not innovative:
“Free of regulation, you might think private schools would lead the way in innovation, but most are focused on the college application process…”
Fancy that. What a shock. The whole American private school system must be letting down its customers, which seems like a market failure to me. Extraordinary stuff.
Nevertheless, Dintersmith makes one excellent point that was brought to my attention by Mike Salter on Twitter:
It is a good sign that Dintersmith recognises non-experts as a problem for education. If we wait long enough for the gears to grind, Dintersmith and the many others like him might also start to realise that they are non-experts. It’s only a matter of time, I hope.