With the start of the new school year in many parts of the world, I recently reflected on the state of modern “education”, particularly in the so-called “developed nations”. I concluded that somewhere in the past 100+ years of human history, we have gotten off-track, and truly lost sight of what it really means to “educate” our young.
Regardless of where you look, you will see commonalities in most education systems currently in use. We have structured formal education much the same way, patting our collective selves on the back for providing what we erroneously believe to be a “well-rounded” approach to preparing the young for the rigors of adult life. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Now, more than ever, do we find that young members of society are less capable and less prepared than ever to deal with real life issues of “adulting”.
If you sat down for a moment, and thought earnestly about how to best educate a child, under which conditions, when and how a child enjoys learning the most, how it best acquires and retains knowledge, what “knowledge” actually is best to impart on a child, etc. you would quickly come to realize that our modern school systems have little to no resemblance of your mental ideal learning environment you just conceived. In other words, if we asked children of all ages (4-21) what the “ideal place of learning” would look like to THEM, we would probably be astonished.
We have, over the past century, devised a recipe for churning out obedient hamsters and rats to get up every day, enter the spinning wheel, turning away the days, until they can spin the wheel no more. We have created institutions of learning which not only resemble cold, sterile prison and detention facilities, but also act as “mental prisons” as well. Rote memory work, learning facts and figures, learning obedience, learning to fall in-line and not ask uncomfortable or unpopular questions, taking instruction for gospel, all factory-style, assembly-line, churning out little robots…
Children as young as 4 or 5, are drilled into a daily routine, essentially deprived of their natural instincts to just “be children” and experience a real childhood. They are taught to obey, memorize, and filter their words and behavior to conform to norms imposed on them. They spend their waking hours being indoctrinated by state-mandated programming, shaping their little minds into conformity. Learning is viewed as a painful, repetitive process, where performance is constantly evaluated and ranked, where obedience is rewarded and individuality is discouraged. We regiment the children’s daily schedule, minimize down-time, and purposely avoid idle time at all costs, thereby depriving the child of critical time and space to let their minds “run free and roam” (which is where REAL LEARNING takes place!).
We have broken down and categorized learning into distinct subject areas, making each area an abstract body of ‘knowledge’, teaching to standardized tests, monitoring levels of regurgitation, creating artificial and unnatural separations, rather than connecting everything to each other, letting the children truly learn whole concepts from different angles.
Any methodology other than the standard state-mandated programming (“Curriculum”) is often disfavored, ridiculed, seen as ineffective, unproven, unscientific, or otherwise less than ideal,… in my opinion because IT WORKS and ACTUALLY EDUCATES children and encourages true learning, which is something the State does not want, and would rather suppress. The State wants obedient, indoctrinated minions, not well-rounded perceptive free-thinkers.
What is troublesome is that this method of churning out compliant subservient citizens is NOT preparing young adults to handle life in all of its complexities. Daily tasks and basic knowledge and skills are not imparted and are instead obtained on-the-go via “Google” and “YouTube”. Our old and outdated educational methods are “preparing” young humans for jobs which will become increasingly obsolete.
I postulate that virtually all children currently alive today who are of school age (4-21), are going to be performing in vocations and professions which do not yet exist today, as they will, in say 10 or 20 years from now. The school-children of today will need far different skill sets and ways of processing information than we did, or our parents did, or their parents ever did.
We really need to re-evaluate how we impart knowledge and experience on our young, the environment in which we do this to them, and the general conditions under which they need to process what they learn, in order to make each and every child the best adult they can be.