Teaching to the Real World, Not to the Test (VIDEO)

Oct 17, 2013 | Updated Jan 23, 2014

As Thomas Friedman notes in his May column "How to Get a Job," "there's been an important shift in the education-to-work model in America." He quotes education expert Tony Wagner in pinpointing this shift: "the world doesn't care anymore what you know; all it cares "is what you can do with what you know." "Today's world needs a workforce of creative, curious, and self-directed lifelong learners, who are capable of conceiving and implementing novel ideas," Salman Khan writes in The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined.

The current paradigm of rote learning in disconnected subject areas does not encourage these skills. Students need to be engaged in meaningful, collaborative learning environments. When students work together on group projects, they iterate, fail, and then succeed, which is exactly what happens in work and life itself. Simply put, when kids solve challenges, they learn better, and are better prepared for life outside classroom walls.

That's why I'm proposing a transformation of how we teach our children. The schools that will prepare students best for the jobs of tomorrow will need to implement the following ideas:

  • Give principals and schools the autonomy to choose the path best for their students. In this way, best practices can be adopted to fit the unique needs of each school.
  • Students should learn how to think, not what to think. By evaluating our students with performance based aptitude tasks (PBATs), they will be able to learn and discover without the pressure of endless memorization.
  • Encourage peer to peer and team based learning. Utilized by schools like Brooklyn's P-Tech and Manhattan's East Side Community High School, these methods create critical thinkers and a life long love of learning.
  • Prepare for the workforce of tomorrow. Kids are discoverers, not hard drives. We will introduce innovative teaching methods that engage all students and teach them the problem-solving and interpersonal skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.

We've just released a video outlining some of these ideas and I urge you to watch it below, give us your feedback and share it with other citizens who want to make a difference. Together, we can ensure that our kids have the best chance possible to succeed.