I recently received my eSchoolNews newsletter and was reading this article about teachers informing publishers of their expectations for content. In the same email, I also saw an article about how students are more tempted to cheat because of technology.
Here's one interpretation: Better curriculum is not the problem (if it was, then every student would fail or lose interest). I think there are two priorities. Foremost is more involved, empowered and better trained teachers. Second is the recognition that with pervasive access to information (mobile, Internet, computers, etc.), rote memory is IMO passé. So - what to do?
The first priority has an easy answer, but is incredibly difficult to implement - let us recognize that the smarter we are, the safer we are, and shift half of Homeland Security's budget to the Ministry of Education - invest in more teachers, improve professional development and pay, and improve school infrastructure.
The second is harder to solve, but easier to implement. We must better educate students in interpretation, analysis, critical thinking, and effective communication. Wouldn't this be a better way to harness the creativity they showed in the second article? It appears that most cheating attempts to avoid memorization. Allowing students to have access to information means that testing is now focused on interpreting information, and persuasively articulating a point of view vs. just regurgitating facts.
Tomorrow's schools (and let's face it today's teachers as well) will not be able to keep up with the "information retrieval" tools that students will have. Moreover, in the real world, the students' skill in "retrieval" will actually be valued over memorization. Moreover moreover (!), assessment systems today are not geared to measure the types of skills and abilities that we discussed above.
So - if this makes sense, why aren't we moving this way?