Lisa Nielsen Answers Questions About Education in the US

By Jaime Ortega Simo.

Lisa Nielsen Answers Questions About Education in the US

Lisa Nielsen Answers Questions About Education in the US

Lisa Nielsen, author of Teaching Generation Text, is a seasoned public school educator known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator.



1) Is there something wrong with the system and education in the U.S.?
  • Yes. School is standardized to the multi-billion dollar testing industry rather than customized to student needs.
    • High Schools Most High Schools are not taking responsibility for helping students find their passions, grow their talents, or explore their interests.  This leaves students unprepared to pursue a livelihood or college major that would best suit them.
    • Colleges Most colleges take no responsibility for helping students secure meaningful internships / apprenticeships while in college and jobs afterwards. Colleges should be directly responsible for this and their success assessed by the employment of their graduates. The payback of student loans should also be connected to this and should never have to exceed a set percentage of their monthly salary.
2) Are high school students in the U.S. unprepared and surprisingly unaware of the hardness college presents to them, once they decide to get a higher education? Is the transition from high school to college to harsh? 
  • High Schools like The MET Big Picture Learning School don’t have such problems because their students leave high school fully aware of the passions they want to pursue and they understand what is required to get there. Additionally, if this includes college, these schools have strong partnerships with colleges so there are few surprises.Unfortunately for some other schools the transition becomes difficult only because schools today provide so little opportunity for independence and choice as well as the fact that they often ban technology or block online resources that students will need for success. If high schools started providing access to real-world resources, more choice, independence and more options as they do in college, there could be a smoother transition.
3)  Does college increase creativity or does it diminish it? 
  • Unfortunately, like high school, most of college consists of reading and writing about doing things rather than actually doing things. This stifles creativity. Another problem is that college has not kept up with all the new, exciting, and creative careers that are out there today. As a result students are often kept prisoners of their teacher’s pasts and more and more are realizing that college isn’t able to prepare them for success. There are  movements like Dale Stephen’s Uncollege and books like Blake Bole’s “Better than College” that appeal to those who realize that college will not help them achieve success.
4) What is your main concern about education in the future for kids all across the U.S.? 
  • My main concern about education  is that it is disconnected from what is important for real life success. (You can hear me talk about that here.) There are few companies that are looking for employees who excel at the memorization and regurgitation that our current education system places such a high value on. Instead, we need to have students spend less time with teachers, textbooks, and tests and more time out in the world discovering and learning about what matters to them.
5) It is said that in today’s generation, Facebook and Youtube are much more powerful tools than Video Games were in the 80’s and 90’s for high school students. Perhaps because the newer generation has not only access to Facebook but also to video games as well. Is Facebook and Youtube helping kids get better grades, compared to latter generations? 
  • Grades today are generally acquired by a student’s ability to comply, memorize and regurgitate. These are not actions and behaviors that Facebook and YouTube were designed for. If schools graded and placed value on development of learning networks and connecting to experts and those who share your passion, these tools would help increase grades. Unfortunately that is not what our system values.Even if it did, despite the fact that Facebook and YouTube happen to be two of the world’s most powerful learning tools, these sites are banned in many schools.
6) Are kids going to forget what a library is in the next decade? 
  • The role of the librarian is certainly evolving, but there will always be a place for libraries. It may be known under a different name i.e. Learning Commons, librarians may be known under a different title i.e. curator,  and patrons may not be required to go to a particular space i.e. digital access anytime, anywhere. Regardless of semantics or whether it is a physical or virtual it will always be important that there is a space for people to come where they can find information, share, and discuss ideas with the help of expert curators.Libraries also are places that provide equitable access to information and technology for any citizen which is quite important for those who don’t have access otherwise.Additionally, thriving schools have libraries as that hub where students can come to learn, think, consume, a create independently which is of utmost importance for developing successful citizens.
7) What ought to be done to increase kids awareness to become more educated?
  • We don’t need to increase kids awareness to become more educated. Humans are born learners that appreciate success. They just don’t see schools as providing that. Many students are bored and feel disconnected in school. They don’t see how what they are learning in school matters. In many cases they are rightWhat we need is to help educate kids in areas they find interesting and important in ways that are engaging and relevant. Kids will do hard work if they feel it’s worth doing. Schools have to do a better job of providing students those type of experiences.
8) Is the government doing its job right, when It comes down to education?
  • No. The government is not doing the right job when it comes to education. We have let the multi-billion dollar testing industry drive education even against the wishes of parents, teachers, and students. Many of our students are leaving high school and college unprepared for the jobs of today or success in life.  This is because in many cases our students are receiving an outdated education that is disconnected from world and learning that happens in the world oddly is often not considered education.To change this we must stop valuing the drill, kill, and bubble fill that our politicians are pushing, and take back the right to learn by providing students with a choice to pursue meaningful and authentic learning opportunities that will help them achieve personal success.

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