What the modern school lacks: a column of the managing partner of the Skysmart online school Alexander Laryanovskiy

On the eve of the annual festival for parents SmartFest, Alexander Laryanovsky told us about the problems of Russian education, technologies that can improve modern schools, and important questions that a caring parent can ask himself.

Alexander Laryanovsky

Managing partner of online school for children and teenagers Skysmart (by Skyeng).

What’s wrong with school education

1. The student is not a full-fledged subject of the educational process

He is never asked what he wants. School was and remains a duty and an obligation. There is no interaction with the child in the lessons. The typical teacher is not interested in what lies outside his employment contract, namely, the desires of children. This is the logic inherited from the depths of centuries, which has remained in Russia to this day.

2. Study materials don’t change

The textbooks that I studied and from which my parents learned remained the same. Science is developing, but updates do not reach the education system – neither in terms of teaching methods, nor in terms of content.

3. We have departmental education

Those who study biology are not interested in what they study in chemistry. For those who teach history , it’s all the same that children go through geography. Teaching materials that are given on different subjects are not related to each other in any way.

The history of Ancient Greece, the literature of Ancient Greece, the geography of Ancient Greece – all this is studied in different classes. Speed, acceleration and derivative – these topics also take place at different times. As a result, the student receives fragmented knowledge. And if he wants to make his own picture of the world, he must make an effort to connect them. There is no one who would be interested in this, except him.

How to solve problems in school education

1. Unload teachers

To make the learning process at school more interesting and productive, first of all, it is necessary to relieve teachers. Now they physically do not have the opportunity to come up with something new. But in their profession, it is important to be creative – to teach in a way that no one before them.

To solve this problem in an ideal world, it would be necessary to attract additional personnel and increase the prestige of the teaching profession. But now, based on the means available to us, it is possible to automate some tasks: writing a huge number of reports, compiling curricula, checking homework.

You can easily take 3-4 hours a day from a teacher, which he spends not on working with children, but on fulfilling formal requirements.

For example, it is quite easy to automate homework checks with the help of computer algorithms. In Skysmart, this is how it is organized. Moreover, it does not matter where the task was completed – on a computer or in a notebook. You can point the camera at the sheet, and the algorithm will highlight all the errors.

2. Change the curriculum

It needs to be updated. I can point my finger at some textbooks and say, “That’s not true anymore.” A few years ago, in physics materials, I found the phrase “Electric charge goes from minus to plus.” Why? Just because! This is now outdated information.

Many people say: “What can change in the multiplication table?” Nothing can change in the multiplication table, but the method of studying it can change. It cannot be said that we have reached the peak of knowledge in teaching.

Also in the modern world, soft skills play an important role – the skills of critical thinking, psychological literacy, stress management, communication, teamwork, creativity and others. Everyone talks about them, but no one teaches them. Therefore, I would definitely include the following disciplines:

1. Psychology of interpersonal relationships . It should be taught from elementary grades.

They say that the school is an institution of socialization. But the socialization of children at school is left to chance.

A child and a teenager are not taught to build relationships within the team, talk about themselves, live their own emotions . But it is a very important part of our life. This needs to be taught.

2. Financial literacy . You can enter a separate subject – a course for one or two years.

3. Fundamentals of logic and rational thinking . It makes sense to go through them as separate chapters in elementary school, laying the foundation. But in high school, logical and rational thinking is as much a meta-skill as critical thinking.

4. Sex education . This discipline lies in two planes: psychology of interpersonal relations and biology. In the latter, much more time should be devoted to this than now. But as a separate course , sex education will be too short. If you properly integrate it into the existing educational system, then this task will be closed.

5. Cyber security . Of course, it should be studied from an early age. However, this is a piece of computer science and IT, not an independent subject. It is difficult for me to imagine even a six-month cybersecurity course. It seems that it should be spread throughout the textbook of computer science, starting with the basics and ending with the fact that a person can write his own software – an antivirus.

6. TRIZ . I am a big supporter of such methods. I think I would include them in the main course of physics, and then dragged them into other subjects in order to train “trizian” thinking in children. I’ll give you an example.

Question: 1,500 years ago Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem. During her research, she discovered the cross on which Jesus was crucified. This cross had healing properties. Next to him were two more, on which the robbers were crucified. One of them believed, so his cross was also holy. And the other is not. Elena could not determine which of the crosses was miraculous and which was not. And she came up with a “trizian” solution. What do you think?

Elena dismantled two crosses and changed the crossbars in them. The result was two holy crosses.

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7. Ethics . It’s also an extremely important item. However, if we teach it separately, outside of other subjects, it will turn out to be superficial. Because all the humanities and natural sciences certainly contain or should contain ethical questions.

8. Blogging and self-promotion . This is what should be inside any academic discipline. After all, what is it? This is rhetoric – the ability to conduct a discussion. This and oratory – the ability to speak in public. This is the ability to delve into the topic that you want to talk about. This is the possession of presentation skills with which you can convey your thoughts: video, song, dance, and so on. Ideally, if we implement these practices in all subjects and in all classes.

3. Develop independence in learning

Children have too high stress levels due to grades, exams and a lot of homework. In this pursuit of academic achievement, the main thing is lost – love for learning, interest in the subject, curiosity, pleasure from the process of learning something new.

School grades are important, but it is much more important when the child is genuinely involved, looking for additional materials, asking questions. Such interest is the basis for self-realization in the future. And here a good tutor is not enough – you need a teacher who captivates the subject, and a system that motivates children to continue the process of learning on their own.

Based on the experience of our methodologists, I can say that as soon as a child becomes interested in learning on his own, there are no problems with copying homework and endless searches for motivation. Children need to be helped in the pursuit of knowledge, to change the behavior of adolescents, offering instead of ready-made homework to think about the logic of decisions.

What can parents do

If I lived in Russia, I would transfer the child to home schooling. I think I can organize the process more efficiently than the average school.

If we are talking about a parent who works two jobs and is physically unable to devote time to homeschooling , then I would advise him to ask himself questions:

  • “Who should feel good: me or the child?”
  • “I want the child to do what is convenient for me? Or do I want to maximize his chances of success in the future?”

It’s not a “either this or that” switch. There are positions “between”. For example, an honest answer might be: “I want a bright future for my child, but I can’t stay at home with him. Therefore, I need a storage room called “school”. However, mathematics and physics are taught poorly in it, so you need to hire tutors or sit down and independently explain topics in these subjects to the child.

Another question that a parent should ask himself is: “Is there anything I can do to help the child decide on a profession and have clear guidelines for achieving this goal?” It turns out that yes. To do this, you can at least sit down and watch videos with your child about ways to build a career in some area.

But the most important thing for a parent to do is to take responsibility: “Yes, I have two jobs . I have a hard life. But it is I who is responsible for who my child will become. Not a school.” So up to a certain age, the parent should be the customer of education, then the child himself.

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