Educational Methods and Issues
Examine the complex topic of educational methods and issues at various levels of formal education available in the United States, which includes preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, and categories of higher education, such as universities/colleges and vocational schools. The purpose of education at every level is the transfer of knowledge, skills, and values to students.
While the importance of standardized testing following the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 puts greater emphasis on standards at the state level, there remains a remarkable diversity in educational methods including storytelling, discussion, lectures, hands-on training, and demonstrations.
These can be utilized in a variety of classroom models, which can be roughly categorized into those that have a teacher-centered approach to learning vs. a student-centered approach. A teacher-centered approach focuses on the teacher as an imparter of knowledge to students, while the student-centered model positions the student as an equally-active participant in the learning process. An example of the former is the flipped-classroom model (in which teachers pre-record lectures for students to watch at home, with homework assignments completed during class time). An example of the latter is the Montessori model (in which the students choose their own focus for much of the school day).
For most of the U.S. educational history, students had two options for formal schooling: public or private, with parochial schools dominating the private category. In 1991, the creation of the first charter school provided a third option as a semi-autonomous public school that is exempt from a variety of laws and regulations, provided it meets the terms of its charter. Online schools became the fourth option in the K-12 space in the 2010s, while universities and colleges also began offering online courses to meet the needs of distance learners.
In the twenty-first century, education administrators, teachers, and students face a variety of challenges, including school safety, the technology gap between schools in wealthy districts vs. schools in poor or rural districts, curriculum standards, budget cuts, and classroom size.