I am a firm believer that although some students may fail under the constraints of formal education, those same students may continue to learn and succeed with the aid of alternative learning provided throughout our society. Dr. Gardner states that “Human beings have tremendous capacities to learn and develop, as can easily be seen if one watches a child actively exploring his environment during the first years of life.” (Gardner, 2004, 249) I am completely in agreement with Dr. Gardner but question the cause of limiting a person’s capacity for learning as they mature. What in human nature, society, or education prevents children from continuing to learn at the same capacity as their first year of life? In my opinion, the structure of education places the constraints of students’ ability to learn. This opinion is backed by Dr. Gardner who points out that “educators should exploit the cognitive and affective powers of the five-year-old mind (an energetic, imaginative, and integrating kind of learner) and attempt to keep it alive in all of us.” (Gardner, 2004, 250)
Dr. Gardner proposes four reforms to assist in the improvement of the educational system. The first deals with how students are assessed, the second is concerned with the quality of curriculum, the third addresses teacher practices in the classroom, and the final component is community support. Although my opinions are somewhat mixed with Dr. Gardner’s critique of the educational system, my opinions are in complete agreement with Dr. Gardner’s educational reform. Assessment is critical to any program, including the educational system. Standardized testing is a poor evaluation due to the fact that it is only measuring the student’s ability to regurgitate information. Building portfolios as mentioned by Dr. Gardner is a much truer evaluation of students’ ability because it would allow students to problem-solve, use creativity, and have a deeper understanding of the information presented in class. As stated by Dr. Gardner, “unless the accompanying curriculum is of quality, the assessment has no use.” (Gardner, 2004, 254) Both the second and third reforms dealing with curriculum and teachers are related to one another. Although Dr. Gardner does not go into great detail about improving the quality of the curriculum, he does note that professional development is critical for teachers to improve the quality of teacher practices in the classroom. I am a firm believer that professional development is necessary for teachers to continue to improve in their professions as well as introduce new ideas, information, and technology that may help teachers improve the quality of learning in their classrooms. The fourth and final reform addresses the need for community support. Dr. Gardner calls for the local communities to be active in the schools. I think this is very important when motivating students for the future as well as introducing real-world applications for information taught in the classroom.
With the need to improve education and trainings, many have turned to technology as an effective learning tool. Simulations and video games are currently being utilized in school classrooms, businesses, military, museums, flight training, and NASA. The potential benefits of video games and simulations include improved reading skills, logical thinking, observation skills, vocabulary development, problem solving, and strategy planning. With such a diversified demand for simulations and educational video games, many software companies have recently risen to the challenges to offer programs to fit any need.