These are education ideas based on things that occurred in my private school, which can be repeated in public school. (I attended both types of schools.)
1) Problem solving via education: a. A medical doctor came into my class in private school in fourth grade with a demonstration. She attached a cigarette to a plastic tube that went into a plastic model of a human being. Inside the model, 2 mason jars were filled with Angel Hair/cotton, which the doctor stated would act like our lungs. She had a hand pump to squeeze that created suction on the tube holding the cigarette to create breathing action. The white cotton after a few puffs on the cigarette began to turn black right in front of our eyes. I never smoked, nor have I ever tried a cigarette since seeing the results in fourth grade of ingesting the smoke from one cigarette. -public school had nothing like this. This demonstration can be done with nurses, emt's, or any health official.
Bottom Line: Let's target problems in a preventative fashion through education.
b. Obesity is at the root of many of the health ills that are most costly in this country. What can we do through education that targets that problem 100%? -First, we need to get our information strait. Bring Dr. Michael Anchors -MD, PHD to the White House and to Congress to speak about weight loss. If you read his book - Life between Meals - you will get ideas for policy change. (His book could not be mass published. Publishers said, "It's not trendy enough. It's all fact. We want something that will excite people and fly off the shelf." So they would not publish the writing of a man who has been a weight loss doctor for 30 years, or work with him to reform the book to be more marketable.) Here is a sample from his blog. Contact him through his site, get his book. It reads like a text book of what every American should be doing. Distill down the information and get it into schools at the early level. Start at the root with health education. Make it important that all elementary school children are saying things like, "I'm not gonna do that, that can't be good for my health." Get them young. This gets heart disease, diabetes, and all kinds of other costly problems down. http://phenpro.com/comments.php?id=798_0_1_0_C
C. Divorce. My background in Sociology taught me a startling piece of information. The rate of divorce - one of the most costly things in society - is not driven by the quantity or intensity of conflict. It is driven by how the conflict is resolved. In college, I was introduced to conflict resolution. It stated, you listen - paraphrase - state your opinion - and then listen again - paraphrase back - and then state your opinion - until you can find an alternative solution that is win win for both. Why did I have to get that one lesson from a PHD professor of Stress Management in college? (A course I had to argue with my parents to take because it was outside of requirements.)
The funny thing is, the most important thing I learned about relationships in school, that changed my entire life - I learned in my last year of 7 years of college (when I paid myself the last 2) - from a course I could barely find, barely get into, and wish I had first semester freshman year.
Every day, this course provided the most relevant information in the history of my education. Can you take this type of information (Dr. Gerald Greenberg at University of Maryland has phenomenal books and he can guide you) and incorporate it into schools as prevention.
Also, divorce is caused by competition in relationship. When there are disagreements and it becomes debate - one wins - one loses. In a marriage this means you make the person you love most in your life a loser, or you try to. Successful relationships share in common that they dialog about disagreements and find win - win scenarios.
What about having a life skills course at the start of each 4 year block of school? And I mean an intensive course that prepares people for life. Rigorously taught by the best professional educators.
2) Motivation/inspiration via education. Use the web to create an organization of professionals who are willing to come into schools a couple times a year to speak to specific classes. For example, bring a carpenter into geometry class towards the beginning to discuss how he draws shapes on his designs in order to plan how he will build houses/rooms... etc. Bottom Line: Education partnerships with the community of professionals surrounding it. Bring experts into each class once a year to talk about how they use each skill. Bring a scientist or a business man in to talk about how he uses writing skills. Bring experts into every class to compel the students to engage far more strongly in the material. Concept: Engaged students will pull more information from their teachers and challenge their teachers to be better. Teachers will also feel appreciated and will work harder when students are engaged and it is not an uphill battle to teach.
3) An education forum for parents Provide a forum for parents to get the latest information in very distilled fashion on how to help their kids be successful in school. One example, highlight that students grades are directly correlated towards the number of hours of sleep they have. When in public school, there was one class in high school where a teacher went - picked up a metal trash can - and threw it down on the ground while standing on a lab desk to wake everyone up. 38 people had fallen asleep during class near the beginning. They were all worn out when they got in there. I was engaged in the material and found him to be a great teacher.
Start with sleep: Talk about diet: Talk more about playing outside and video games.
4) Counter act self-defeating trends. One example, as an entertainer I perform in schools. Now, children are layered up with sun screen before they go outside. The media has pumped up a lot of fear about exposure to sunlight and so parents and teachers have a different feeling about sending their kids outside. There was a period of time that I realized if I watched the news too much, I would develop fears of everything. Look at what the news tells people, go outside and a mosquito can poison you with west nile virus, or the sun can give you cancer, or.... etc.
There is already some change in this, but we need to take this all the way. Somehow parents need to learn that being in sunlight activates vitamin D, which helps children develop. Humans work like trees with photosynthesis. We create vitamin D in the sun rather than glucose.
Target and counter these issues that create limits on children being outside.
Remember, being inside on a video game is fun - but if being outside might eventually kill you - you are safer if your kids are inside.
Trend two. Talk to strangers education. Kidnapping is actually one of the rarest form of crime, yet, to protect children from it (even though most kidnappers and child abusers know the family personally) we have told children not to talk to strangers. Imagine Obama running for president not talking to strangers. Imagine a sales person, a business person, anyone trying to be successful not talking to strangers.
I feel in our culture the results of this teaching. When I go around the world and learn how open people are to communication it kills me. We create a pattern in childhood that separates people and makes them keep their distance.
Instead: We need to educate children how to understand who is safe to talk to and who is not. Pick up signs that something is weird. How to judge when someone has your best intentions at heart - or when they are trying to get something. Educate children to read and understand people. Nonverbal communication is a science now.