iStock_000001433771XSmallShe was sitting next to me on a flight to San Francisco. We talked about kids and education. Then I asked her this question, “What is the single thing we could do to improve our education system in the U.S.?” Her answer surprised me.

Recently I’d listened to a TV program where educational experts discussed the state of U.S. Secondary education, that’s high school level. One fact they mentioned was that Chinese students spend 50 more days per-year in school. That means they get 5 years of our education in 4 years. Now that is a big difference. I remembered back to my School Board days and the battle we had with the Union about adding just 10 minutes to the school day. Also how it seems as if my Grandson’s have virtually every Friday off for one reason or another, while time in the classroom is not the “end all”, but it sure couldn’t hurt.

During that TV dialogue the experts opined that U.S. education was now way down the list internationally, somewhere in the 40’s as I remember it. The “technology” expert on the panel suggested that by using technology we could close the gap, while agreeing that it will take more than on-line learning to really make a difference, the time with an excellent teacher is a huge advantage. That logic made sense to me too.

Back to my seat mate… She was a math curriculum expert and had recently participated in the Math Olympics held at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The competitors were the top 1000 math experts in the country. She had just missed the top 50 and her team had finished fourth. I was pretty impressed. She now consults on Math curriculum for school districts and schoolbook companies.

Here is her answer to my above question that surprised me: “Let 15 year olds drop-out of high school and elect a technical course of study.” She said, “There are so many 16 and 17 year-olds that don’t want to be in school. They consume the teacher’s time not allowing those who want to be there to progress as far or as fast as they are capable. It also keeps the kids who don’t want to be there from the chance to find out what they do want to do, rather than suffering through an agonizing waste of time.”

I thought back to the panel of experts and thought, “Here is one idea they missed.”

The net result would be that motivated students will get more time to learn and any technology applied will have a greater impact. What a simple yet profound idea whose time has not yet come. If we spent the money and the time to enhance our technical training that we spend housing the unwilling, each person and society as whole will be improved.

I like simple and effective solutions to any problem. Here is one worth considering. Let me know your thoughts. How would you answer my question? “What is the single thing we could do to improve our education system in the U.S.?” Maybe together we can make a difference.

Let me know your thoughts and comments. Our dialogue continues.

Living with Trusted Advice together,

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