Monday, 21 October 2013

Schools Delivering an Archaic Education System.

Why Education Does Not Prepare Your Child:

Think about it. Why do we send our children to school, other than the fact that it is compulsory and we could be jailed if we didn't? Most parents would answer, "To prepare my child for the future." Or  "To get a job to support themselves in the future." All ideas of sending children to school, centres around creating a better future for them. This idea, of future preparation, is also what the government centres their vision of education on. So if the main idea of sending children to school is to prepare them for the future; how do we do that using an antiquated system that was developed over 200 years ago and has not changed much in any way? The education system, with its rigid, structured, content-driven curricular and standardised testing, is the least equipped system to help our children prepare for a future, in a world that requires flexibility, divergent thinking and problem solvers.

So how did this system of education develop and why do we still use it today? 

Well to cut a long, boring story short, the education system that we still follow today was established in Prussia (in the beginning of the 1800's) to meet the demand for obedient soldiers and productive factory workers. 

Up until the 1800's there was no state run, compulsory education system: children from wealthy families had tutors, children from poor families were working as soon as they could walk and had no time for something as frivolous as education. This all took a turn when Prussia found themselves falling behind in the industrial race and suffering massive defeats against Napoleon's army. The ego-wounded nation enlisted some of their brightest minds to develop a solution to this problem. The solution that was presented was to develop a compulsory education system, where the students could be taught basic reading, Mathematic skills and some general knowledge about the world we live in. But most importantly, this schooling was to teach people how to follow instructions quickly and accurately without question. So they set about putting together a system that would help them to achieve the goals, previously mentioned. This is what they came up with:

  1. Segregate information into subjects, so that students get some general knowledge, but no real deep understanding of the world we live in. 
  2. Students were not to spend too much time on each subject, as this would lead to them pondering or thinking, which was not to be encouraged. In order to achieve this the teachers would stop the children every 20 - 30 min and change topics. 
  3. Subjects were also to be taught in an unrelated fashion, so that the students gained pieces of knowledge, without, gaining insight into the whole picture. 
  4. Also to get them used to the assembly line it was decided that a bell would be used to indicate the end of one subject and the beginning of another - sound familiar? 

When Prussia started leading in the industrial race, and their army went from one victory to another, other countries pricked up their ears, so to speak, and sent their "educated" minds to Prussia to see why they were becoming so successful. They determined that these mind blowing Prussian advances were due to their compulsory, formal education system. This is how this one model of education spread throughout the world and with very few exceptions is still used today.

But we do not live in the same world today. Everything is different, and because of this the education system should emulate that. To put it into perspective,these are the children the education system was developed for:

These are the children of today:

Just looking at the two pictures we can clearly see the huge differences in our children over the past 200 years. How do we expect a model of education that was developed for children over 200 years ago, to be adequate for the children of the 21st Century. The last 20 years has seen the largest advances made in technology in the history of mankind, with this in mind our education system shouldn't even be the same as it was 20 years ago. 

So why leave it the same? Well my theory is that the governments of this world still do not really want to create thinkers. It is easier to rule and indoctrinate people that have been told their whole lives to, "Shut up, sit down and listen." People who have been forced to respect authority, regardless of whether that authority deserved the respect or not. People who have been taught to follow instructions blindly, without questioning what was being asked of them. Why would the rulers of this world want people to think and question them? That would make their lives way too difficult. This education system does not produce thinkers, and because of that it also makes people fearful of change. Therefore people are quite happy to leave things as they are, as they do not have the foresight to envision that anything different could be successful. 

When voicing my concerns, I often get people saying to me "My schooling worked for me, so why shouldn't it work for my child?" Well for many reasons:

  1. Looking at the state of the world today, education has not really worked for anyone. Debt due to inability to run budgets (both household and national), war, hunger, intolerance, single mindedness, bullying - I could carry on and on, are all failings of a system that did not teach people to think and live effectively.
  2. The world you lived in as a youngster, is not the same world your child lives in today.
  3. Just because something worked for you, doesn't mean that it has worked for everyone.
  4. We are preparing our children for a world that is changing faster than Lady Gaga during a concert. We should be teaching them to cope in this futuristic, fluid world.
  5. Education should be seen as something that changes and evolves, as the world advances and morphs into something new and unexpected.
So where does this out-dated education system fall short?
  1. The old, archaic system leaves children bored and demotivated. The 21st century child is exposed to huge amounts of stimulus, from TV to Gaming to Internet. This stimulus is what has fed them from tiny and it is the pace and 'glamour' that they are used to. Then we expect the child to sit still and listless in a classroom, while a teacher drones on - yeah, that's not going to cut it for our technology driven child.
  2. The education system continues to deliver workers for industry, whereas the world desperately needs more inventors, entrepreneurs and problem solvers. 
  3. In the past education was a guarantee for a job. This is no longer true. While, you have a greater chance of getting job if you have an education, many university graduates sit at home, in their parents basement, because there is no longer place for them on the workforce. Knowing this, surely education should be driving entrepreneurship as an integral part of their curricular (if they are really preparing children for the future, as they claim to be).
  4. In the past children went to school to learn information that they didn't have access to anywhere else, this has shifted. A child knows that any information that a teacher supplies them, they can easily find online (and often in a much more interesting format) In fact studies have shown that children are very capable of teaching themselves, without any adult intervention, at all. Take a look at this experiment below (the first 7 min are quite theoretical, if it bores you jump to 7:29. What you see will blow your mind):

Schooling does not prepare your child for the future. If you are lucky enough to send your child to a private school, they will definitely be at an advantage but private schools are still regulated by state. Children (and they are in the majority) who have to go to state schools, especially state schools in poorer areas, are at the largest disadvantage  There are schools in rural and poverty stricken areas that children go through their entire schooling career, never even getting to touch a computer. These areas are not necessarily only in third world countries; there are first world countries too where children have no or very limited access to computers and technology. How do you possible prepare a child for the future without an in depth knowledge of technology?

If we are hoping to prepare our children for a brighter future, we need to work at driving change into the very institution that is preventing our children from becoming thriving, contributing members of society. A staid 200 year old system, is just not working anymore and large changes need to be made. Not just superficial, curricular changes, but large shifting completely away from the current model, type changes.

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