Teach kids to convert information into intelligence

Education should teach students to convert information to intelligence, said Jaime Casap, Google’s Global Education Evangelist. Casap was speaking at a recent kick-off event for the Arizona SciTech Festival in Scottsdale.

“The tools are all here and we do not need any further information. All we need is to convert this information into intelligence and do it well.”

Are our schools equipped to do that? Are teachers making efforts to teach a young generation to selectively use data, learn to interpret it well and actually use it in real life situations?

Education, according to Jaime needs to go through a radical design. “While we know that children learn in different ways, how do we make this happen?”

On a typical day, 1000 teachers quit the teaching profession in this country. There is a constant turnover of instructional leaders in middle schools and there is a crisis in educational leadership.

States like Arizona must “grow their own farms” to attract more high-tech industries, says Casap. “To do this we need to support incubators, offer tax breaks and interest rates for folks who want to stay here.”

“A quality workforce is what we need, not quantity,” he added. In the U.S. only 14 percent of students are graduating in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) fields. In China it is 42 percent while in Korea it is 32 percent.

We have only two options: either radically design education to fit the needs of the individual learner or stay with the factory model of the 1950s.

The choice is ours but time is not on our side.

Dad, please don’t check my grades. What’s wrong with how children learn?

Noted education expert, John Tagg stopped giving grades several years ago.  According to Tagg, author of the Learning Paradigm College, external rewards will not strengthen a student’s motivation to study. He asks educators to teach students to avoid skimming the surface. Instead, students must take a “deep approach to learning.”

One way is to provide students with meaningful patterns of information. Give them content that is organized to reflect a deep structure of the subject. Here, knowledge gets contextualized and gives students the flexibility to retrieve knowledge with little effort.  Learners will recognize that something is different and will rethink theory. Here are a few tips from Tagg :

  • Create an environment where students learn what they need to do at work.
  • Ask students to avoid a surface approach to learning; instead have them focus on meaning and take a deep approach.
  • Emphasize feedback to learners not evaluation. Promote feedback and regular response to work.
  • Adopt a new mindset that praises students for efforts and strategy.
  • Criticize their defects in strategy. Never say they are smart.
  • Adjust the cognitive load for students as they have no choice.
  • Ask students to do a self-assessment.