What is the argument against traditional learning?
Mass education was modelled on the economies of scale of industry, it is a cost effective way to achieve standardised test scores but these test scores have an uncertain relationship with life skills. Mass education serves a second function, it “warehouses” children, freeing adults to work in industry. The apprenticeship or situated learning which works for cottage industry is less appropriate for industrialised society.
Mass education has not recently become broken, it has always been a substandard institution. What has changed is that computers now offer alternative ways of learning. Computer games use effective learning strategies which we can build on. They also offer opportunities for situated learning and problem based learning.
Average combined mathematics literacy scores and problem-solving scores of 15-year-old students, by country: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/quarterly/vol_6/6_4/2_2.asp#Table_B are interesting.
Standardised testing has developed to meet the needs of industrialised mass schooling, it does not necessarily reflect the skills that children need to acquire. Differences between countries may well reflect cultural and economic differences rather than differences in the educational systems.
Australia, New Zealand and Canada score significantly higher than USA despite sharing similar cultural backgrounds. I have noticed a significant difference, USA educators are more focussed on the transfer of knowledge than the development of problem solving skills through self-directed, problem based learning.
To back this claim, I have searched several keywords with Google Trends http://www.google.com/trends
If you search “instruction” USA cities fill all 10 top places, the same with “test scores”, the same with “standardized test” (note, non-US spelling “standardised” does not have enough search volume to show graphs)
If you search “constructivism”, Australia and New Zealand cities fill 5 places and USA 2 “problem based learning”, Australia 3, USA 2, “constructivism “ Australia/Canada 3, USA 4, “problem solving” Australia & New Zealand 6, USA 0, “metacognition” Australia & Canada 4, USA 6.
I believe that computers and computer games give us opportunities to offer self directed, problem based learning to students. The superiority of this learning has long been recognised. The analysis of standardised testing by country is problematic, the test scores are an imperfect measure of desired outcomes and they reflect cultural differences as well as educational differences. They do however offer circumstantial evidence of the failure of an Instructionist education model compared to a Constructivist model.