“Insoo has a difficult math problem as homework. He posts it up on Naver Knowledge iN, a popular online Q&A service with some 70 million entries. Within about 10 minutes of posting, someone chimes in with a good answer, and Insoo awards him with some â€œKnowledge Powerâ€ points â€” knowledge-based economy in action among 14-year-olds.”
Laurent remarks that Korea provides
“an opportunity for Europeans and Americans to have a preview of what their society might be in a near future. Most of the important technological trends start in Korea five years before they hit us. Think of citizen journalism (started by Ohmynews in 2000), social networking (Cyworld, 1999), or knowledge sharing websites (Naver Knowledge iN who became Yahoo Answers for us).”
And that sentiment seems to be backed up here
All of which presumably ties in with “bottom-up education”.
From a teacher’s perspective, I think it’s great news that children can find so many different sources of help. And it’s great that they stand a good chance at becoming more skilled in collaborating, co-operating and thriving in a knowledge market of sorts.
Perhaps the homework scenario skews things a little? Education is about many things, but presumably a couple of the key goals are encouraging curiosity and fostering understanding. To go online to quickly get some answers so you can quickly finish your homework (and do well at it) is a wonderful skill, but I wouldn’t have thought it’s the goal of the homework exercise.
How, then, can we rejig homework to encourage all of the above – curiosity, understanding, and collaboration?
Well, step one might be to look at the research that homework helps academic achievement. I’ve just bought this to try and find out more, and Harris Cooper at Duke seems to have done some interesting work. Even if it does help, there are pros and cons:
â€œMost of what homework is doing is driving kids away from learning,â€ says education professor Harvey Daniels. Letâ€™s face it: Most children dread homework, or at best see it as something to be gotten through. Thus, even if it did provide other benefits, they would have to be weighed against its likely effect on kidsâ€™ love of learning.
Step two might be to try to, ahem, make homework enjoyable. Get children using their collaborative skills and their own interests to fulfil that horrendously named thing, the learning objective. Perhaps we should be asking the children how they could learn more about, say, perimeters and area at home, online, together or all three.