Over the past few weeks, HackSchool held a student leadership competition. The kids spent many hours on their applications, which consisted of a series of short essays on the state of American education and how we can improve it. Check out the end of this post for a short essay by one of the competition winners!
The winners of this competition, Edgar and Anahi, will be traveling with me on a 4-day, all expenses paid trip to Indianapolis and Washington DC from April 4-7. Thanks SO much to The Mind Trust for sponsoring this!
In Indianapolis, we'll be competing in The Mind Trust's education redesign competition... A true "Shark Tank" of the education world. This is a pretty big deal for the students since this is very much an adult competition, and we'll be pitching to some of the biggest influences and deepest pockets in the education world.
In our pitch, we'll be talking about what we've learned about the future of education from our experiences thus far at HackSchool. More specifically, the importance of solving real communities' problems and why this is a necessity for any good school of the future. We'll have 10 minutes to present, then 5 minutes fielding questions from the judges. The prize is $50,000.
From there, we'll move on to Washington DC, where we'll be meeting with the bigwigs at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The OSTP is doing some great work for STEM education and innovation. Edgar and Anahi will get an invaluable peek behind the American policy-making curtain. There's lots to be excited for here. But I'm most excited that Anahi and Edgar will have something tangible, physical to imagine should they ever set their sights on technology policy. They'll know how to envision their future in detail: what the building looks like, how the desks are set up, the smell and temperature of the place. All mundane details, but details that let a person's imagination grab hold and see itself, one day, sitting at one of those desks.
Stay tuned for updates--we'll be live blogging the trip as we go!
HackSchool Leadership Application: Student Response
What is wrong with education in America? What are the problems within education and who do these problems affect?
We live in a country that values spending more on military and funding federal prisons than they do funding the brilliant minds of the 21st centuries. With over a decade of experience attending public schools, I have learned that the American school system is flawed above anything else. Besides not funding our education system, there are also other problems in the system.
One problem that I have experienced in my school career, is that the students are not prepared for what happens after high school. Our schools do not provide enough resources and classes that teach students the fundamentals of actually living, yet students know how to solve trigonometric equations, students know the themes that are present in the Gettysburg Address, students know how to read and understand the periodic table, as if knowing these things will help get a loan, get a home, pay my bills, or solve world's problems. We need to provide our students with quality information that they will actually use, rather than pilling up meaningless work that they're going to be tested on. Students are trained like robots to learn information, practice, and show the people "up above" that we are learning something. What good does this do for the students? Standardize testing in America has become a way for schools to get money, rather than to gauge what students have learned and what needs to be .
Education is important to me because just like many others, it can give me a better life. I have my dreams and aspirations, and education can help me get there. School and my academics has always been something that I cared about, especially because my mother pushed me and my siblings to do better. My sister is a junior, studying criminal justice at Metropolitan State University, and my brother is a freshman, studying architecture. Of course, I look up to them with extreme pride. They have been able to achieve what many in our family have not been ever to achieve. One of those people is my mom. She had to stop going to school once she was done with 8th grade. She tells us that she wants to go back to school, and make a career of it. I look around at my family, and notice that each of them have had different experiences with education, and all of them push me to do better in school. I know want to get my masters degree in Civil Engineering at Colorado School of Mines.
All of the problems that I have presented only effect the students, and the students future. Students have the right to an education. This education should present meaningful information that will actually help them in their future, not something that they need to remember and write down on a paper to prove that they know what 1+1 equals.
I want to make school for students a place in which they are the top priority. Where there voices are heard. I want to make school meaningful, and in a place where it is fun and safe to learn.