Saturday, October 13, 2012

Does your school board want to build a "school of the future"?

Thoughts after reading a vision about The Student is the Class
Dr. Abe Fischler (former president of Nova University) made it possible in the 1970s and 1980s for principals and teachers to get their education doctorate degrees by going to a cluster or group meeting once a month.  The professor flew in or spoke to the group by phone and the students earned their degrees over three or four or five years.

This was before the internet and he helped to transform higher education.

[start of Abe Fischler’s blog entry 2006]

There are three modes of instruction:
1) self-paced or Computer Assisted Instruction,

2) project or problem-solving and

3) discussion.

Self-paced or CAI requires that each student have access to a computer and modem and access to the curriculum on a server on a 24/7 basis. Projects and problems should be relevant to students so they can relate to the given subject area.

For English and Math, we should implement CAI in the 1st grade (and continue thereafter).
. If you know these two languages and are motivated as a self-learner, you can teach yourself almost anything you want to learn.
And, one of the goals of education is to create self-learners.

For all other subjects, the teacher can pose a project or problem that is relevant to the student.

Once the problem is defined, the class can be broken down into groups of 4-5 students in order to research the solution to the problem.

 If complex, each of the groups may study an aspect of the problem.

With these subjects, the student uses the computer as a research tool (after having learned to read). Students are taught to use search engines such as Google or Yahoo as well as the intranet made available by teachers gathering information relevant for the students.

Students working in a group learn cooperation, shared responsibility and communication (face-to-face as well as e-mail). Having produced a written solution to the problem utilizing the computer (power point) as a tool, they can then present to the class for discussion. They can also use email or a written report to other students as well as the teacher.

Arbitrary learning within fixed time periods would be eliminated, i.e., no 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. grades.

TIME WILL BE A VARIABLE  -- students will learn at their own pace.

Instead, students would be grouped chronologically with materials appropriate to their learning level and style using the CAI approach for English and Math, and the project/problem/discussion modes for other subjects.

The projects given to the students match the level of English and Math competencies and are related to the students (their interests and their lives

In order for this to be implemented, what do we need?

1) We need the people on board – parents, teachers, community leaders, etc.
2) We need the hardware – computers with modems and Internet access for each student.
3) We need the management system (many existing solutions can be adapted).
4) We need the curriculum – Computer Assisted Instructions (CAI) for Math and English and creative, relevant problems and projects for other subjects.
5) We need teacher training.

 I would like to see a group of elementary and middle schools, and the high school into which they feed (a demonstration ‘zone’) of some size agree to adopt a vision where time is a variable and mastery what is expected from each student.

A computer company can be found to donate (or the zone can buy) a laptop with a modem for each student.

The zone needs to build an integrated management system in order to be responsive to what students do and how they learn.

Part of the management system is administrative, part is the CAI component, and lastly, the management system needs to record and reflect the student’s learnings in non-CAI instruction (‘student portfolios’).
Put up the posters and ask students to make comments.

 The CAI component must be self-correcting and use artificial intelligence so that the component improves as more students utilize the program for English and Math.

Teacher training is critical and must be done during the summer prior to implementation.

[end of Abe Fischler’s blog entry 2006]

Here are some of Dr. Fischler’s principles
Science is a verb                Math is a language

Time is a variable

Introduce the discrepant event

The student is the class

We can personalize the curriculum for each student by using computers
And creativity in the teachers.

Why not invite him to your district?   Give Abe a Zone

Give Abe a high school and the elementary schools and middle schools that feed that high school.

Give him five years to show what can be done … not by imposing a new system, but by inspiring teachers to embrace and infuse the school with transformation…

Ask students to send their comments to
Call 954 646 8246 if you want a free copy of his book

Go to to read extracts from the book

Download his posters from

Put up posters and join the transformation of schools.  Ask your students to explain the meaning of the posters and then ask them to send their interpretations to (we're creating a collection of observations).

Put quotes on walls and ask students to discuss them.

Send your suggestions.  How can we make this program work more effectively?

What does your district need?

Does your district have a zone that Abe Fischler could help with advice?

He’s told me that he’s willing to do this advising work for $1.   There are some other conditions, such as a large enough budget to ensure the success of the project, including sufficient and appropriate training.

No comments:

Post a Comment