by Michael Ho

Filed Under:
education, khan academy, tutoring

kumon, sylvan

DailyDirt: Lots Of New Education Ideas -- Quality Or Quantity?

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The array of institutions aiming to improve education is more diverse than ever before. There are all sorts of tutoring services (Kumon, the Khan Academy, Sylvan, etc), and it's still not clear what approach (assuming there is a single solution) is the best way to teach kids. Maybe in a few decades, we'll have figured out what the optimal strategy is to educate the most children, but in the meantime, we have a lot of different opinions on what to do. Here are just a few links on teaching kids. By the way, StumbleUpon can recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2011 @ 6:28pm

    More effective teachers? This would be great if we could do it... but how do we do it? Kids in middle school and up can certainly tell if their teacher is good or bad, but I wouldn't trust them to answer honestly on an evaluation.

    For-profit schools? I don't like it (at least not as a replacement for our entire education system.) The government requires kids to go to school... what are you going to do when one company owns all the schools in the county (think rural areas) and then jacks up the price one year? Competition can't come in that quickly, and now you either have to pay what they ask, move, or stick your kid on a bus for a few hours every day.

    Smaller schools? Yes! I'm sure you save money in some areas by having one big school. On the other hand, with a smaller school, maybe you don't need that extra vice principal. And the kids don't have to be bussed so far.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Michael Ho (profile), 1 Aug 2011 @ 7:21pm


      I vaguely remember an article that said more graduate-level education programs were studying "how to be an effective teacher" over churning out more and more educators with master's degrees... but it wasn't clear if there really was a good way to teach teachers to be effective.

      That was several years ago... and I'm pretty sure there's still no conclusion on how to teach teachers.

      But we should start somewhere -- and a scientific approach to developing better educational programs could bear fruit someday....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Roland, 1 Aug 2011 @ 6:55pm

    Feds out

    Education in the US started going downhill when the Feds stepped in. In 1980 it became Cabinet level: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Education. The slide accelerated when GWB started "No Child Left Behind", which used standardized testing as a proxy for quality. FAIL. Education should be a local matter, with less administration. Private schools could compete with the local option, but they can't compete with the Feds. Even Republicans can sometimes be right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 1 Aug 2011 @ 7:38pm

    We need to raise the Light bulb

    Try this sometime.
    Put a group of students in a room with a light bulb hanging just out of their reach.
    Then watch what happens: after a while one will jump to touch it, and before you know it, everyone in the room will be leaping like Michael Jordan. They are testing their skill, stimulated by the challenge of reaching something beyond their normal grasp.
    Put the same students in a room where everything is easily in reach, and there will be no jumping, no competition, no challenges.

    - Carroll Campbell
    The problem with modern education is a low ceiling of expectations. We have built huge online and offline learning environments that show too much, need too much time to implement, require too much re-training and re-thinking for teachers, allowing no or little feedback, and in so doing teach too little. Sadly the students have stopped jumping.

    We need to find ways to raise the light bulb.

    Ultimately the goal of all Education institutions should be a medley of face-to-face, online and even some old and proven Pedagogical methods such as rote, that suit students needs and aspirations. Allowing them to challenge and reach for the light bulb forever.

    [Note: this is part of a 23page report I co-wrote back in 2003 on “Advanced Learning Technologies in Higher Learning” and is still very relevant today]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), 1 Aug 2011 @ 7:54pm

    A Good Start

    A good start would be to legislatively nullify all teachers' union bargaining power regarding termination of teachers. There are some truly colossally idiotic teachers out there that have no business infecting anyone else with their stupidity.

    Take my ninth grade English teacher, for example. He sent a student to the office one day for arguing with him during class. Which would have been fine if the student hadn't been trying to explain to him that bilingual did not, in fact, mean that you can't speak English.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2011 @ 9:38pm

    I have a patent on all of these educational ideas and anyone who tries to use any of them gets sued.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 1 Aug 2011 @ 10:25pm

    "But that just shifts the debate to arguing over what the best incentives for teachers are..."

    Hookers and cocaine. It works for politicians and rock bands.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    James Stevens (profile), 2 Aug 2011 @ 12:32am

    This guy is on the right track...

    With all the knowledge we have at this point in human progress, it's pretty sad that our education system and our ways of measuring people are both archaic and inefficient, stifling even.

    With all the tools we have available with programmers we should be able to develop a better education system that is more fun to study in and better adjusted to each person individually. IMHO, customization is the name of the game... it's going to be all about how well you can customize your child's education in a way that works best for them. You set your child on a path to end up at a point that is most beneficial to their future as a contributing member of society. That's all you can really do as a good parent, is give your child the best shot. I think there's some way to apply a learning apparatus with these goals to public education.

    As you point out, Michael, it's hard to tell where the solutions will come from. But I can assure you, the solutions (as I expect there will be more than one way) won't come from Washington; it'll come from the minds of great visionaries like 19-year-old, Stanford PhD dropout Andrew Hsu, the dude who had 3 B.S.degrees at 16.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nicedoggy, 2 Aug 2011 @ 3:33am

    Since 2007, a fad following Indian-style education blew through Japan. Many publications with titles like “Extreme Indian Arithmetic Drills”and “The Unknown Secrets of the Indians” hit the bookstands expounding and explaining Indian math techniques, and Indian math drillbooks (in Japanese) can still be seen on sale even in neighborhood supermarket magazine stands alongside of fashion magazines.

    The new edu-craze is thought widely to have been sparked by insecurity caused by the huge slide in rankings in the recent OECD survey … namely, the fall in Japan’s math skills from first place in year 2000 to 10th place … behind Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

    Source: http://educationinjapan.wordpress.com/of-methods-philosophies/the-boom-in-indian-math-education/

    I don't think the problem really is with teachers, not all that is because of them there is a cultural factor too, if you get everything you want and there are no hardships why you will ever bother to do hard work?

    I have been noticing that most countries that have the best scores are countries developing or that recently became wealthy where real hardship is a reality and they have rigid on the extreme side of things educational systems that in the USA would be considered concentration camps.

    Maybe is not only the teachers but the environment that needs some rethinking.

    People think of children as little moving dolls that have no brains, but they do have brains and they can see their parents struggling and that can create the powerful motivation to learn to be able to do something about it, if that doesn't exist how do you recreate that?

    Should parents start to live beneath their means and start taking acting classes to enact hardship so their children create some sense of need for education?

    Or is just a crazy idea?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shanti Patel, 21 Sep 2013 @ 11:54am

    Kumon is not worth it.

    Not sure if I should send my kids to a Kumon learning center because I heard that many kids studying kumon math and reading were molested. Google "kumon molestation" and you will find for yourself how bad it is. This is scary and the public must be aware. The quality or quantity matters nothing if pedophiles and child molesters lurk in their tutoring centers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    wendy b, 17 Oct 2013 @ 11:17pm


    Child molestation has overall become a growing problem through out the world. So it is not surprising that pedophiles and criminals are now at Kumon Learning Centers. The children molested at Kumon have to bear the pain and suffering for the rest of their lives. All Asian learning programs are useless. They do not help in school at all. Parents are stupid to risk the lives of their children by sending them to Kumon learning centers and risking them being molested.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DT, 12 Jun 2014 @ 6:53pm


    The problem with Kumon Math & Reading is that sex scandals have been perpetrated by the Kumon family themselves. So who can blame many of the franchisees for sex crimes?


    When my sister first opened a Kumon center in Atlanta the son of the founder of the Kumon Math & Reading company was involved in a major sex scandal with a franchisee Debra Tajiri, who owned two Kumon Math & Reading centers in Manoa and Kailua. She later claimed that Hiroshi Kumon had ruined her life after they had an affair and began asking him for money over a 21-month period beginning in March 2002. An employee of Debra Tajiri, the Kumon franchisee, later allegedly extorted $150,000 from a son of the founder of the Kumon learning method in exchange for 2,000 “compromising” photos. Debra Tajiri and one Sean Yonehiro, whom she hired to work in her centers as an assistant, were later arrested and faced a charge of sending international extortion communications which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Both were arrested after Yonehiro met with an FBI agent posing as Kumon’s attorney at Ala Moana Park and took from him a bag containing what he believed to be $150,000. At the time of the affair, Hiroshi Kumon was Director of Kumon Institute of Education in Japan, the parent company of Kumon North America, one of five regional headquarters worldwide responsible for operations in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

    An individual who went by the name “Max Lee” and who had been e-mailing Hiroshi Kumon while he was in Japan threatening to release compromising photos of Hiroshi Kumon if he didn’t pay for them. The complaint does not describe the photos but does say that Lee threatened to release the photos if Kumon also did not send more pornographic pictures of himself. More than five years after their affair, Debra Tajiri (the Kumon franchisee) allegedly began e-mailing Hiroshi Kumon asking for $500,000 to remodel her house, the complaint said. In those e-mails, she allegedly told Kumon that “you have taken a lifestyle from me,” and that she was considering filing a lawsuit. She also accused him of infecting her with a venereal disease and said that he should pay for her medical treatment. Kumon allegedly paid her more than $350,000. Later Debra Tajiri, the Kumon franchisee, allegedly continued asking Kumon for money, saying electricity at her home was shut off and that she could not pay contractors to finish work on her home. Debra Tajiri, the Kumon franchisee, e-mailed Hiroshi Kumon again, saying she needed $550,000 to secure a building contract. When he didn’t respond, she e-mailed him saying her life was “hell” and was over, and asking him why he had not sent money. Investigators learned that the e-mails sent by “Max Lee” came from an account belonging to Debra Tajiri and from her Nipo Street home.

    One of three vehicles spotted at Kumon franchisee Debra Tajiri’s residence was a white Ford pickup truck that was later seen at the Hawaii State Library — the first meeting Lee allegedly requested for Kumon’s representative to bring the money. A man was seen walking around the library on that day before leaving in the white truck registered to Yonehiro, who lists a Nipo Street address as his residence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.