Back to School

 

In Mexico, I’m an outsider looking in. I could be off the mark, but I don’t think I’m too far off in regards to most of the public education I see where I’m living.

Generally the school system in Mexico seems to be more about order and control than about learning. The school days are short and regimented with an emphasis on uniforms. It doesn’t seem conducive to learning many things other than compliance. If you’re a top student you “get to” wear a ¬†uniform different from the rest of the class, which for a poorer family is just another burden. The original mission of the nonprofit in our town was/is securing dough for kids who need it to afford (uniforms, lunch money, shoes…) to go to public school; just because there’s a public school here doesn’t mean everyone can afford to go.

I had dinner the other night with some friends. A Mexican couple told me about their homeschooling plans for their two young sons and kids of other families. They want to allow the kids to have a less stressful learning environment and to start later in the morning so they’ll be more alert. Their kids will also be learning at their own pace in a class with mixed ages. Their plans are very progressive and not at all like what’s on offer in the public school.

I told them what they want to do sounds like the schools in Finland, the most successful in the world. And maybe they’d like to use the Khan Academy, it’s free, simple and really turning things around in on-line education. Bill Gates and a bunch of other big hitters are now getting behind the Khan Academy. It’s been featured on TED Talks, Charlie Rose, and OnPoint to name a few if you’re interested to find out more.

I think my friends will be able to do a good job teaching their kids. I’ll check back with them in nine months for a progress report and let you know.