How To Improve Our Education System by 2020
As a child I loved to learn. I know it's cliché, but I wondered about the stars and why the sky was blue and how plants grew. I used to collect lizards with my brothers. We would study them, building small habitats for them and learning about them through practicality. We would spend our days outside, building forts, riding bikes and performing age old science experiments like combining bicarb soda with vinegar in bottles before shaking them up, throwing them across the lawn and watching them explode. I was interested and curious about the world. Everything held a sense of wonder. It was part of who I was. Then I entered primary school and slowly my curiosity dwindled.
Sure, at the start, the system still promoted these qualities but as the years went on more and more educational standards from the industrial era needed to be met. With every worksheet, every homework assignment, every hour spent cross legged or at a desk staring patiently out the window waiting for the clock to strike 3 my passion for learning dwindled. I should've loved to learn, but I didn't, which shows something is wrong. At the present moment schools, sadly, still don't promote critical thinking, curiosity and self-exploration which are all essential qualities for an egalitarian society. This is what we need to change by 2020. Instead of lowering eagerness for learning, we need to promote it.
In 1903 to the GEB Rockefeller proclaimed,
“I don't want a nation of thinkers. I want a nation of workers.”
This, herein, lies the problem with modern education. Although, without a doubt not the same system that Rockefeller created back in 1903, our education system as a whole still carries many of the fundamental traits that encourage the creation of a working, not a thinking, populous. These traits do not encourage critical thinking, but rather citizens that act within pre-set boundaries that are beneficial to a consumeristic system. This can be seen through the standardised testing, rote learning and strict adherence to pre-set rubrics that no student can claim to enjoy. These methods will not move us forward as a race. We need a new system of education that will create citizens that question, challenge and think for themselves. What we need to realise is that the current techniques of schooling that seem so set in stone are in fact malleable. They were created by us and can be changed by us at any time. In order not to give the impression of polarisation within this topic one must admit that there are certain aspects of the current system that are useful. Basic mathematics, reading, writing and articulation are all skills one needs to participate within our society. However, at the same time, we are missing an essential part of child-hood and adolescent development. Critical thinking.
To improve learning, by 2020, we need to let our children learn how to think for themselves. How does one do this however? Well, the first step is a drastic change in environment. At present, the learning environment does not foster creativity. For example, let's look at the be all and end all of the schooling system, the HSC, SAT or IB in other countries. These are a test of your ability within certain areas such as Mathematics, English, Geography etc.. Is this not enough to show the flaws of our current approach already? The system's end goal is placement. Placement in comparison to others in pre-set specific subjects in order to determine eligibility within certain university courses and subsequently future careers. While this is an important aspect, it should not be the sole one.
Do you think our current education system is working?
Where Do We Go From Here?
If the foundation of our education system was built around creating workers, not thinkers, we have to tear down that foundation. Yes, there does need to be some standardised testing in our system for it to still function in our current society but it has to be a small aspect. What the system needs to focus on is creating citizens that actively question, challenge and transform our world. At present, our society is unsustainable. We are running out of food. Of water. Of energy sources. If we continue to raise our children the way we were raised, we are not going to last as a race. As Alan Watts says, we need to explain to our future citizens that our laws and our customs that govern our society are simply rules that are malleable, that are changeable and that can change. Combining this sentiment with schools based on egalitarian, rather than Christian foundations and the future generation will be kind, caring and able to make something out of this mess that we've left them with.