Friday, March 11, 2016

Education has been on my mind this year.

Well, this semester. There's been an ongoing discussion about it in my speech class and ever since it's been popping up all over the place in my life. So I really feel like talking about it because for some reason it's so gosh darn fascinating. Now, I haven't really formed my own concrete opinion on it just because, in a way, I'm still a part of it so it's hard to come at it unbiased. Also I feel like I don't know enough about how it works to really back up my own opinions and suggestions. So I've been more listening to others then I have actually critically thinking about it, so here's the general opinion that, for now, I agree with. (Also acknowledge that this is a GROSS over-generalization of the public school education system. Some schools might not even have the problems I am addressing in here.)

As a whole, it needs to improve. The one-size-fits-all system we have right now fits no one anymore.

There needs to be more variety.
I know it would be a monumental task but we need to have our education system meet the child rather then the other way around. I'm not saying personally create a different curriculum for every individual child, but take this into consideration. It's been proven that every child learns differently. In a general sense they tend to do well either in auditory learning, visual learning, or interactive learning. So why not create a test to see which way any given student leans and then place them in core classes taught by someone who specializes in that specific type of learning process. I don't claim to know how easy or difficult this would be, but I can't imagine that I'm the first person to come up with this idea and it seems very possible so what is holding us back? That's just a small way to increase learning and it would still make a world of difference.

There needs to be more creativity.
For as long as I've been alive (that admittedly being not very long at all) art programs have always been considered "extra curricular" and been treated as an optional way to keep kids invested in school, more so geared towards the well being of the student then serving any sort of academic purpose. As such, when cuts need to be made, they are the first to go.
This is a gross underestimation of what classes that encourage creativity do.
Classes geared towards creation force students to think beyond picking A B C or D, they teach creative problem solving. Now, you can argue that yes this generation has this or no this generation lacks it but none of that will change the fact that creativity is integral to society, even more so then just factual knowledge which right now the public school system (in my experience) favors. This isn't to undercut basic comprehension (what math science and english generally teach), because clearly that's important too. But when you cut out or undermine creativity (drama, art, music) it's like halving education, teaching kids only half of what they need in order to succeed. When it comes right down to it, people have to know how to think outside of the choices presented to them. Creativity is so much more then we give it credit for.

There needs to be more learning. 
Say it with me now, kids do not need to be taught how to ace a test. Knowledge retention after you leave high school is so low. When I was fresh out of high school to have at least a flimsy grasp on algebra, but now, a mere three years later I've forgotten almost everything I learned. I was helping an eighth-grade girl with her homework the other day and I couldn't solve her work for the life of me! Obviously at one point I knew how, I passed the test I was given at that time, but after that it was virtually worthless to me.
Maybe this goes hand-in-hand with the creativity problem but it seems like school curriculums have become more like glorified study groups then actual classrooms. They drill in concepts, give a test, then move on. Lather rinse repeat. It's no wonder that knowledge retention just doesn't exist. And if we don't remember what we learn then what even was the point of learning it to begin with? Not for nothing but if I wasn't going to use these skills later then why was I learning them rather then actually doing something productive instead? It can be argued that learning for the sake of learning creates a well rounded individual, a sort of societal boy scout who's always prepared for anything. But, again, what is the point if that boy scout is going to loose all the lessons he's learned and all the equipment he's gotten as soon as he leaves the program anyway? Classrooms need to be re-geared towards not just teaching math and science and english and art, they need to instill it into their students. These things need to be practiced in a practical manner, outside of the context of a piece of paper in which they'll eventually get evaluated for nothing more then the trade off of being able to move on in their studies. Science, I will say, is probably the closest thing to getting this right. Outside of tests they experiment with the things they learn, they're able to play around with them and see how they effect the world.

I've already gone on long enough so I'll close with this. Right now, despite all I just said, schools right now aren't that bad. Obviously they're doing something right if society is still functioning, technology is progressing and humanity is advancing. (You can argue all those points on some level but hey, I'm just happy that as a species we've stayed away from cannibalism for the most part.) It's just that, like most things in this world, it's a work in progress. And I'm sure once we find a better system it'll still have flaws much like these. But, that's just my humble barely-educated opinion. Honestly, if you're reading this (whether you're my fan, friend or fam), I'd love to know you're take. Comment below if this whole thing got you thinking. Also, scroll down a little more for some links, they're the things that got me thinking about all of this in the first place.

'Til next time nerds.

The Creativity Crisis:
TED Talk: Sir Ken Robinson's Do Schools Kill Creativity?