Good Students Don't Do What They Are Told

By Eliot Salandy Brown

The shift in teaching methods has created a new demand for engaging products in the classroom.

Cast your mind back to your childhood classroom and try to remember what a lesson looked like. Where did you sit? What did you do? Who was the focus of the class?

For most of us, the overriding memory will be facing the front in rows of desks, being lectured to by a teacher, and writing notes in a book. For many schools in the U.S. that is no longer the case. A recent ReD Associates study for an educational material provider suggests that in recent years there have been radical changes to some of the fundamentals of education — from what teachers believe their role is to the nature of the relationship between schools and their pupils.

Spending time in America’s growing number of pedagogically progressive schools shows a surprisingly enthusiastic adoption of stimulating new teaching methods, alternative class formats, and egalitarian relationships between school administrators and pupils. For many teachers a totally orderly classroom is now something to be rectified; an iPod Touch is a powerful learning tool, not a forbidden device; good students don’t just do as they’re told — they approach their lessons critically and challenge what they think doesn’t make sense. The result of these progressive practices is not only a leap in the development of soft skills such as leadership, creativity, and problem solving, but also better basic test scores in English and math. It seems the new approach really works.

The implication for business is that the billions of dollars spent annually on equipping schools are now going to rather different types of products. The traditional providers of classroom and teaching tools are lagging behind the emerging needs of teachers and are failing to create the exciting atmosphere, empowering relationships, and critical thought processes that teachers increasingly aspire to achieve. Now would be an excellent time for any manufacturer of engaging, thought-provoking products to consider whether the world of education might be their next growth market.

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