Re: Obama urges longer school hours
Well, I don't disagree that the pursuit of knowledge should be encouraged and is admirably. And I would agree with the notion that critical thinking, practical problem solving, and logical thought should be emphasized over standard "do as you're told" line of thinking. Most of the time, anyway.
But from what I gathered from the links you provided, what you're promoting is basically just more open-ended classroom environments. I had a college philosophy class that operated in a similar fashion to what was being described. We had set reading material (Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, some Buddha shit some dude wrote, etc.), but the class was structured in a way where we basically discussed the reading amongst ourselves with the teacher just adding to the discussion, or sometimes proving counter-arguments and ideas to keep things going. No lectures and shit like that, really. And tests were basically just papers we wrote discussing our thoughts and opinions on the readings.
It was a pretty fun class, and the teacher was a decently smart dude which made it somewhat enjoyable. The discussions were basically useless and a waste of time since everyone there was pretty much a stupid fucking idiot though. So the only time I learned anything is when the teacher himself was talking, and from the readings themselves.
But I honestly can't see how that kind of class structure would work for shit like math and science. At least not in a way that would be better then classical education styles. In math, for example, there isn't much to discuss. You either are doing it right or you're fucking it up.
I'm also against class participation grades and shit like that. If you're going to have grades then those grades should reflect how well you know the curriculum. Not how much homework you do. Not how much you talk in class. Etc. With the links you provided it seems like there is still set material that is covered. I think grades should reflect how well you know that material. Or, at the very least, your ability to draw information from the material and apply it in a relatively intelligent manner during the classroom discussions. So my opposition in this regard depends on how classroom participation grades are judged, I suppose.