Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Waiting for Superman: calling the education crisis

The people who brought us An Inconvenient Truth – raising awareness of the environmental challenges ahead of – have turned their attention to the US education system. The documentary ‘Waiting for “Superman”’ directed by Davis Guggenheim intends to pack some powerful punches about the state of the public school system while providing a call to action.

Below is a neat little animation that trails some of the desperate statistics underlying the problem that the film brings out:

TakePart: Participant Media - Waiting For 'Superman' - Infographic from Jr.canest on Vimeo.

While this focuses on the US, there are clearly parallels with many of the problems we face here in the UK. I’d like to say we should view this as an early warning of things to come, but that time has clearly passed. 

Just today the Guardian has highlighted how Higher Education is beginning to seriously face up to its deep structural flaws. The Open University is attracting many more young students than ever before. While the trigger might be avoiding what will be hefty debts by choosing a cheaper, more flexible option that allows them to balance work and study, they are pleasantly surprised to find it is a more conducive and supportive learning environment. They shouldn’t be surprised. The OU has pioneered a model that will dominate in the future (see Donald Clark’s posting for more on this). The good news is not only will it deliver a better education for our students, it can be achieved on significantly LESS public funds. A real win-win which if only this was whole-heartedly embraced could simultaneously work to reduce our national debt while also producing a more confident and productive generation that knows that work and learning go hand in hand in a future where accelerating change is the new normal. They can all be Super(wo)man.

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