In today’s global, knowledge-driven economy, so much in life begins with the quality of a child’s education. But what exactly is a "good education?" What does it look like? What should be the primary focus?
I am certainly no neuroscientist. But I have always been interested in the science behind cognitive development. I thought that if we better understood the science behind how children learn, then we could apply that knowledge to designing learning environments that better appeal to the learning preferences of today's children; a generation that seems to be increasingly disenchanted and unmotivated by our current method of lecture-based, teacher-driven instruction.
I approached the president of an IT company I was representing at the time with my ideas and interest in education and we agreed that I would create and lead a new education department. The purpose of the department was to work with educators on better integrating technology into the curriculum and classrooms. But before approaching a single educator, I was challenged with a task I will never forget. My client told me: Do not focus on technology. Focus first on how children learn. Understand that.
I spent the next year researching this question. My year of research turned into a white paper, 1-to-1. 1-to-1 makes the case that 21st century education should be intellectually rigorous, interactive, responsive to diverse learners, connected to real-world experiences and most of all, student-driven. 1-to-1 makes the case that students should have ubiquitous one-to-one access to technology. But its title notwithstanding, the point of 1-to-1 is not to make a case for computers; it is to make a case for a new educational paradigm. 1-to-1 makes the case that our world has changed, (Thomas Friedman’s words, not mine) and in order to remain timely, relevant and meaningful, the way we teach this and future generations of children must change as well.
Note: These words and this paper was originally authored in 2010. At the time, these ideas were met with no small amount of resistance. In 2020, as I write this updated note, almost every school district in the country has adopted some form of a 1-to-1 initiative and recognizes the value of ubiquitous access to digital tools.