Published Online: August 30, 2005

Letter

New, Efficient Models for Solving Old Problems

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To the Editor:

In her Aug. 10, 2005, Commentary, "The Fork Debate," Laura Thomas makes some important points about why we do what we do when we talk about school improvement. I have a bit of advice for her and her husband: You may find that your impasse over the direction of fork tines in the dishwasher might best be settled by getting a new, efficient dishwasher. Then it will not matter which way you load the forks!

Likewise, the nation may need a new, efficient school model in order to significantly improve student learning. The late-19th-century factory model—schools full of children who want to be there, learning to read, write, and calculate—is not consistent with our 21st-century situation. The factory model, when successful, allowed educators to push out nonachievers, and it was cheap. It worked fairly well in the past, but it does not have much promise for a 21st-century society hoping to serve all its children and youths.

What about an alternative that considers the current nature of schooling, taking into account students’ educational needs, society’s needs, and modern learning technology? We are educated enough to design and implement a new model, but are we focused enough to do so?

Jess P. Elliott
Atlanta, Ga.

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