If current technology was used correctly, teachers would become an artifact overnight. Through my personal experience with our educational system and extensive discussions with others about their experiences, I think most people only had 3-4 really good teachers out of approximately 70-100 teachers in K-12.
We have the technology right now to bring the very best teachers in each subject nationwide to each and every student. You can create video lectures, interactive online experiences, live chat and online testing easily through a central website.
Currently there are 6.2 million teachers in America, earning on average $40-45k. That means we are spending $263 billion on wages for teachers alone each year. That does not even factor in the costs for paper textbooks (wtf!), giant buildings, administration, district bureacracy, etc.
Here are the problems with our antiquated teaching system:
- 95% of teachers suck at teaching or don’t care
- Students must proceed at the pace of the slowest kid in the class
- Students must proceed no faster than the set annual curriculum everyone follows
- Our smartest kids lose interest due to boredom
I am about to propose an alternative that will blow your mind and fix all of these problems.
Give students the OPTION of computer homeschooling or going to a school facility to use a computer to learn. Build a comprehensive library of videos of the best teachers giving lectures on the topics they know the most about and make these accessible to the kids. Have a rating system so that the very best video lectures rise to the top. For example, twenty thousand teachers could submit videos on the Civil War, and kids could watch them and rate them on how much they learned. You would also test the kids on specific knowledge they needed to have after the video and whichever video taught kids the knowledge required best would become the primary video for that lecture.
Right now teachers make the same amount of money every day just for showing up to work. If they do a stellar job, they make no more. If they do a terrible job, they make no less. There is no incentives to do better work. I want to change that- pay each teacher a $.25 for each view of a video they made. If they make the best possible video lecture, 10 million kids nationwide would watch it and they would make $2.5 million. If they sucked, they’d only get 100 views and make $2.50.
I am NOT suggesting that kids have no social interactions. I think that we should have paid facilitators to have live class discussions of materials kids learn and also continue running sports & music and other programs like that. I think we could cut our total spend of $263 billion in HALF though by implementing these changes.
What would the benefits be of switching to an online education system?
- Each child would proceed at his/her own pace through learning material. Smart kids would not be held back and slow kids would not feel stupid.
- Save over a hundred billion dollars in teacher, facility, and administrative costs annually
- Instead of only allowing kids to have good teachers 5% of the time, they can now have stellar teachers at least 95% of the time.
- Allowing smart kids to progress much faster through our educational system and by giving all children excellent teachers all of the time, our nation would see enormous long term benefits to our economy, society and culture.