Addressing the American Learning Gap

The Asia Society , OECD, Alliance for Excellence in Education , Council of Chief State School Officers, and National Governors Association Center for Best Practices sponsored a webcast (according to the Alliance the full webcast will be up “soon”) featuring Andreas Schleicher, head of the indicators and analysis division for OECD’s Directorate of Education. Scheicher offered a compelling argument for global learning that marked the release of the 2009 PISA report. The presentation pointed out that the US ranks at or near the second half of the class of countries taking the 2009 PISA assessment. Though many excellent points were made for the derisory US performance, those that stood out dealt with school autonomy. At multiple points in the presentation Schleicher remarked that the traditional US school structure was suspect if not to fault for low PISA scores. Schleicher called for an end to “the old bureaucratic systems” in American Education and offered that the US needed a “new enabling system”. As he presented the PISA curricular maps it was apparent in stark terms that checking cell phones at the doors of US schools, proliferating instructionist teaching methods through watered down “college level” survey courses, and maintaining school structures that benefit managerial modeled scheduling, salaries and control mechanisms are now irrelevant. We need to address the structure and leadership in American “schools”. The US is holding back a nation of learners in the 21st century with our painful dependence on industrial schooling.

Imagining what’s possible is not difficult for Finland who sits at the top of PISA scoring: distributed systems, student centric learning, eLearning, and loose barriers around the physical spaces of learning that reward the 21st century students interest in mobile learning. This short video on the Future School of Finland starts to tell a story of one national example of excellence in the research and development of relevant learning spaces:

The Institute for Global Civic Culture and our pilot programs are also pioneering a new learning ecology. Distributed leadership for learners, mentors, parents and communities are embedded, eLearning and mobile learning make learning ubiquitous and the curriculum addresses the needs and passion of the Net Generation. Our goal is to facilitate the deep literacies needed to achieve at the top of measures like PISA and as a global citizen in the 21st century.

The Institute for Global Civic Culture is currently seeking Advisory Board Members for the 2011. If interested, please contact us.