The Future of Education

Dropout

Reference: Self-Learning

The Situation

A person drops out of High School because he is faced with confusion in his schooling that seems to be increasing exponentially. He feels hopeless about learning. He can’t see any benefit from continuing in school. So he drops out.

What underlies that confusion are the holes in his understanding. There may be just a few holes in Kindergarten that, if not resolved, become significant by the end of the elementary school. Then, if they are still not addressed, they multiply and become substantial by the end of the middle school. Still not handled, these holes increase exponentially during the high school years until the student starts to drown in the resulting confusion.

The student’s attention is so fixed on the debilitating confusion that the underlying holes become invisible to him. He finds that the teachers and the after-school help are unable to help him with his confusion. All those lessons in the class he attends, just seem to add more to his confusion. He finds himself fighting a losing battle.

The student, and others trying to help him, focus on such holes “horizontally” at his grade level (see the graph above). But the solution does not lie in that direction. It lies in the direction of earlier grades. As you move down toward earlier education, the holes seem to merge into fewer holes. Thus, it becomes possible to trace all that confusion at the top to just a few holes at the bottom.

The cause of the massive confusion of a high school dropout is traceable to just a few holes in his early exposure to the subject.

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The Difficulty

Will it be helpful if the student can make this logical connection between the confusion at the top to the holes at the bottom? Will he experience relief? That is the theory.

But, in general, the student is so overwhelmed by his present confusion that the holes from his early schooling are not visible to him. You cannot ask him to review the early parts of his schooling. This is unacceptable to him.

Yes, the cause of the confusion “at the top” can be traced to the holes “at the bottom,” but there is no way to trace it without the cooperation of the student. The path of confusion along which to trace the holes is locked inside the student. The student cannot access those holes on his own. One-on-one troubleshooting works but it takes time, and it is a hit and miss affair.

The student is so confused that he cannot trace the path from his confusions to the underlying holes in his earlier education.

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The Possibility

Generally, a high school dropout is so confused that he does not know exactly what he needs help with. He cannot formulate his questions properly when asking for help. He needs some firm context within which to formulate his questions.

The fact is that any subject starts with a fundamental premise. It then develops along logical lines. A good example is the subject of mathematics. Mathematics starts with counting; adding is “counting together;” multiplication is “repeated addition;” subtraction is “reverse addition;” division is “reverse multiplication.”  So, when one talks about holes in understanding, one is really talking about some missing step in the logical structure of a subject. This structure seems to provide a context.

The logical structure of a subject allows us to develop a context using which the student can discover the holes in his earlier education.

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The Experiment

A series of lectures were designed to provide the student with a proper context so he could formulate his questions. The lectures, very simply, introduced the broad purpose and scope of mathematics. They described various parts of mathematics. Then within that context the common area of trouble was identified as fractions. The subject of fractions was then approached by defining the fractions broadly. Simple exercises were provided that focused on the logical structure of fractions. 

This had an interesting effect on the students. They started to formulate questions about what was not clear to them. This was the start of a wonderful dialog that provided direction for subsequent lectures. The lectures followed the logical structure of mathematics while answering questions. From fractions, the lectures continued on division, factors, prime numbers, etc., and the interest of the students kept increasing and the questions kept coming. 

As lectures continued on this journey of discovery the hopelessness of the students started to diminish. They were more interested. Actually, this increasing interest was the indicator that the lectures were tracing the confusion correctly. This led to the following solution.

The way to trace back the confusion is to generate a Q & A dialog that closely follows the logical structure of the subject.

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The Proposal

The proposed solution is simple. Restructure the study materials at primary and middle level such that they follow the logical structure of the subject. This was done for the subject of mathematics as follows.

Level 1: Primary School Review

Level 2: Middle School Review

So far these materials have been used in a private tutoring environment to handle student’s confusions at primary and middle school levels. The results have been fascinating. Not only the confusions of the students got handled rapidly, they also became more interested in the subject of mathematics.

The approach used to develop these materials also led to the philosophy of Subject Clearing. One student who continued to be tutored through all four years of High School was also made familiar with the structured approach of subject clearing. Mathematics was his least favorite subject. He not only aced in Mathematics but also in all other subjects. He truly developed confidence in his ability to learn.

The solution, therefore, involves not only the development of study materials that are structured logically, but also training of the student in the use of subject clearing. This will help the student become an independent learner, or a SELF-LEARNER.

A self-learner is one who, on his own, can establish connection between his confusion and the relevant hole in his understanding. He can then proceed to fill that hole by searching for and finding the right material.

A self-learner knows how to clean up any confusion in real time so they don’t accumulate and become harder to handle later. His curiosity to learn, therefore, never diminishes, and he does not have to be pushed.

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Self-Learning Clinics

The effort of producing self-learners out of failing students may be organized into units called Self-Learning Clinics or SLCs. An SLC would be tasked with turning the “hopelessness about education” into an “eagerness to learn” within weeks.

More specifically, the purpose of a Self-Learning Clinic (SLC) would be to help school drop-outs become effective self-learners.

The next step is to draw up a blueprint for the SLC in such a way that it becomes a reality with very little effort. Here is a rough sketch: Self-Learning Clinics.

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Comments

  • vinaire  On June 8, 2015 at 7:05 AM

    As one can see, this research is still continuing. It has yet to provide a theory. There is a reasoned conjecture to understand the situation as follows.

    “The cause of the massive confusion of a high school dropout is traceable to just a few holes in his early exposure to the subject.”

    .

    This has led to the testing the following approach.

    “The way to trace the confusions back is to generate Q & A that aligns with the logical structure of the subject.”

    .

    The initial testing has produced promising results. There have been many comments like,

    “If you were my teacher in school I wouldn’t have dropped out.”

    A girl who had been struggling with math for months, and always looked morose, started to look very happy and eager to learn after just four troubleshooting sessions of an hour each that were conducted on one-on-one basis.

    And here a touching email from a student who was attending the “lecture approach” when she found out that there was an interruption with my research.

    “Hello. 🙂 I was very upset when I walked into Class today to find out you will not be there Anymore. 😦 I left Early, and I was filled with Sadness, For you have became an important part of my life. For the first time in my life, I was actually beginning to understand, and take math in, Because of you and the way you Teach. I am not the only one who is upset, and is going to miss you, But I understand. I will not Forget what you have taught me, Math and Spiritual, And I will use it as I continue my Journey. I just want to thank you for Everything. Your efforts did not go Unappreciated. Take Care, Your Little Conary :)”

    Jokingly I had compared this student to a canary that was taken down in mines by miners in the old times to warn them of poison gases. This student was simply lost where math was concerned and was the first one in the class whose expressions warned me that I should be more simple in my explanations.
    .

    • vinaire  On June 8, 2015 at 7:08 AM

      Note: Action is underway to obtain formal permission to continue with the above research. I hope that will happen this week.

  • vinaire  On June 8, 2015 at 7:27 AM

    I have given much thought to how the SLC program could be exported.

    Exporting the SLC program shall depend on putting together Lesson Plans that follow the logical structure of a subject.

    The two most important subjects are Mathematics and Language Arts. Mathematics becomes very important when it is used to develop “precision thinking.” Language Art becomes very important when it is used to help one “communicate with precision.”

    I have developed a few such Lesson Plans for Mathematics that are available on the G.E.D. Self-Help page. I am continuing to develop more Lesson Plans for Mathematics.

    I hope that someone would help me by developing such Lesson Plans for Language Arts.

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  • vinaire  On June 8, 2015 at 8:30 AM

    The idea of SLCs is being expanded upon here:

    Self-Learning Clinics

    There is a lot of work to be done. The accomplishment of a social objective comes first and the idea of business is there only to support this social objective.

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  • vinaire  On June 11, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    I see the situation as follows:

    The students that are coming in from the street are not capable of self-learning. And I am not quite aware of the strategy that is being implemented to make them into self-learners.
    .

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