What’s Needed for Effective Education Reform?

After spending four years teaching high school math and physics, I am now entering graduate school to pursue research in applied physics. I wanted to write down my thoughts on teaching and, in particular, on the state of our education system, while the experience was still fresh in my mind. I did so back in June, and I am now ready to post the finished product online. It ended up being a 45-page essay. It’s more for myself than for anyone else, but I think some people will find it interesting. So here it is (as a PDF):

What’s Needed for Effective Education Reform?

In the essay, I make some unconventional proposals, including:

  • doing away with grades entirely
  • doing away with grade levels entirely
  • doing away with the high school diploma entirely
  • encouraging early specialization
  • developing a culture of respect for teachers
  • disciplining students in more effective ways


8 thoughts on “What’s Needed for Effective Education Reform?

  1. vsphysics

    I haven’t finished, but I like what I’ve seen so far, and I agree with everything you say so far. There are many such discussion on the Twitterverse under #edreform, e.g. (if you’re into that sort of thing).

    I fear moneyed interests are smelling profits in our education system. Watching the wolves prowl.

    Heard you taught at the Village School. I do now. Nice to meet you.

    Best of luck.


    1. omycroft

      Thanks, Brian. How did you happen upon my essay? Did one of our mutual acquaintances (i.e., a Village student) send it to you to try to convince you to stop giving him graded assignments?

  2. Li

    In my 15th year in the middle school science classroom, I find your thoughts inspiring and difficult. At a department meeting today, we were supposed to discuss the different ways we assess whether students have mastered a standard and what we do to remediate if they haven’t. We all found that there are students who don’t get it, and we give them a failing grade and move ahead. Our justification is that we use different teaching methodologies and give them enough time to learn the material, and at a certain point we have to go on to the next topic.
    And it’s true, because that is the system we inherited, and we feel powerless to do anything different. But we see that it could be different. And we hope for change from outside, but when changes come, they seem to make more work for us, without raising student achievement outcomes.
    Inspiring and difficult. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    Cousin Li

    1. O. Mycroft

      Thanks for taking the time to read my essay, Li. I agree with you 100%. The way things are now, we just have to move on at some point (otherwise the other kids will suffer). A radical change in school structure would be needed to enable a new approach.

      I hope things are well with your family.

  3. vsphysics

    Well, I’ve read it, and, as I suspected, I agree with it all. Your missive sounds a lot like that of Sir Ken Robinson and his philosophies on education reform.

    Need to send a copy to Arne Duncan.


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