The new education system part 4

There are differences in the traditional education system that focuses on memorization and the new education system that promotes “learning by doing.”

In the traditional education system, students often study in isolation and compete with others in the class. But in the new education system, students must learn to work collaboratively. In every class, they must work together to identify problems and create solutions as a team, not the individual. They all share a common goal: To succeed as a team. The team often meets every day and identify what they need to learn to meet their goal. As a team, they also learn to communicate effectively and incorporate different views to meet the team’s goal. To do that, they must learn how to listen to others and respect others’ opinion, even they may not be the same as theirs. By doing it, they learn effective teamwork and collaborative skills which are needed when they work in the industry. My friend, Professor Gershman often starts his class by telling students: “In the past, each of you is a tennis player, but in my class, you must all be soccer players.”

In the new education system, students acquire some basic knowledge from the professors, but they also must learn to find additional information on their own. It is through these extra readings and learning by themselves, students learn more deeply and develop lifelong learning skills. By extending the core knowledge that they learn in class through extra reading, they learn how to apply their knowledge to real situations and develop better problem-solving skills. Eventually, they are willing to accept challenges requiring them to apply knowledge in non-traditional ways. This deeper learning activity requires students to draw information from existing knowledge then do something meaningful with it such as process information efficiently in their own ways rather the academic ways that restrict their thinking. Over time, students evolve from the novice to the expert level within the domain knowledge.

In the traditional education system, students memorize facts and data to pass standardized tests, but most often do not develop the ability to think independently to apply the theories to solve problems. In the new education system, students learn to study at a deeper level so they can analyze problems and apply their own knowledge to solve them. The students must learn how to use the tools and techniques specific to an area then analyze problems logically and generate hypotheses to solve the problem. By evaluate, integrate, and analyze multiple sources of information, they can refine their solution to solve problems.

In the new education system, students must learn a broader range of learning techniques much more than traditional memorization of theories. They must learn to accept responsibility for their own learning, select the proper learning techniques, and judge how well those techniques are working. When they encounter difficulty, they learn how to diagnose the type of difficulty they are facing, select appropriate techniques to resolve the difficulty and continue forward toward their learning goal. Basically, they learn to be more independent on their learning rather than depending on somebody to help them. The new education system requires students to engage in the self-reflection necessary to continue learning throughout their lives. They must set a goal for each learning task, monitor their progress towards the goal, and adapt their approach as needed to successfully complete a task or solve a problem.

In the traditional education system, students focus on passing the test but in the new education system, students care about the quality of their learning and put in extra effort to do things thoroughly and well. The new education system encourages students to develop positive attitudes and beliefs about themselves in relation to academic work. By having positive attitudes and beliefs about themselves students can increase their perseverance to engage in productive learning behaviors. They begin to see the relevance of school work to their lives and future and understand how hard they work now will benefit them in the future and that will lead them to continue to learn and become a lifelong learner.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University