Susan E. Blow, one of the pioneers in the Kindergarten movement in the US noted (1898)
"... to continue to fill the child's mind with foreign material, under the gratuitous assumption that at a later age he will be able, through some magic transubstantiation, to make it a vital part of his own thought... is like loading his stomach with food which he can not digest, under the delusive hope that he may be able to digest it when he becomes a man. It is forcing the mind to move painfully forward under a heavy weight, instead of running, leaping and flying under the incitement of its own energy and the allurement of its own perceived ideal.Thus was play understood to be the primary instrument of learning.The following link is about flipping the classroom and flattening the school walls. Children of all ages need to be doing real things.
"Thus to load the young mind is a grievous sin; but we commit a yet more heinous offense when we insist upon the exercise of faculties whose normal development belongs to a later age. The child is sympathetic, perceptive, and imaginative, but he is incapable of sustained observation and repelled by analysis and logical inference. The very flowers he loves so dearly become more instruments of mental torture when we constantly insist upon his analyzing and classifying them. The attempt to force a premature activity of reason can result only in the repulsion of his sympathies and the stultification of his mind."
A simple answer to what ails American education is to:
make, fix and create...