This must be the best time in the history of the world for people who love to learn. So much knowledge is immediately accessible. Video tutorials allow novices to pick up skills from masters.
I read David Warlick's blog post last week that compares the state of education in Finland with the system in the U.S.. It is here and it's worth the read.
His points are valid, but like so many other opinions on this matter, I think it only touches on the heart of the issue. I am face to face with the real problem every hour that I'm in the classroom, yet I rarely read anything that points it out clearly. From what I see daily, the core of the problem is simply that in the U.S., students do not value learning on an emotional level. For the most part, especially starting at about 6th grade, there is no passion to learn.
Instead, we manage to turn the whole thing into into a system for getting credit. A focus on learning turns to a focus on grades. At the secondary level, grades give way to credit. This credit supposedly will turn into something meaningful way down the road, like getting into a good college or getting a good job. Over the years, students completely forget the joy of learning.
So in this time where learning is more obtainable than ever before, let's remember the only real job is to help our students discover the joy of learning. Let's hunt out and destroy those practices that slowly squelch their natural curiosity and passion to discover. Maybe then the other problems that get attention inside and outside of the schools would take care of themselves.