Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Today´s educational system : Or how to become increasingly uneducated

It´s no news that more and more people have now got access to basic and even higher education. It´s true, the world is becoming more and more knowledgeable, however, what kind of knowledge, or better still, what style of learning is going on during  lessons? 

Well, as far as teaching and learning methods are concerned, not much has changed over the years. There´s more teamwork, more outdoor activities, more "dynamism", ... but what about school kids learning how to learn? No, I´m not trying to sound mystic or anything like it. What I´m trying to pinpoint here is the clear lack of what I have described as "multidimensional", or rather "multidivisional" learning.

Multidimensional learning is about tackling one topic, one discussion, from different perspectives. Duh! you might think, that´s a pretty obvious statement. Everyone knows how vital source contrasting is to reach a final conclusion. Still, very few people actually DO this. So, what happens in schools then? Well, what basically happens is that the teacher provides her/his pupils with bureaucratic tools to reach the "one and only" right solution.

Teacher: So, kids (showing a picture of a house), a house should always have a roof at the top to be finished.
Pupil 1: What if the house has a terrace instead of a roof, would it be finished then?
Teacher: (Clearly upset) Of course not "name of pupil 1"! For it to be a correctly built house, it needs a roof to be finished.
Pupil 1: (Looking sadly at his picture) I understand Miss.

I know this is a silly and cheesy example, but I think it pretty much illustrates the idea of how the current educational system works. There seems to be no room for critical reasoning, for questioning, for "out of the box" thinking. Kids grow up to be black and white decision makers, right or wrong debaters, and all the potential stored inside of them is locked up, hidden away, and sometimes, ostracized. Facts, whether historical, scientific or artistic are just the grounds, not the roof. Knowing what Descartes thought, or what Martin Luther King fought for is not finishing a house, it´s just placing the cement for robust walls to rise.

Challenge your pupils to think for themselves, to question the truths and lies that form our cities. Life is made to be questioned, to be differently perceived, to be complexly expressed, to be changed and to be lived. The best teachers, the most renowned masters are those who teach their students to be daring, to be brave, unaccepting and flexible. Life´s too rich to be sold in single branded packets. Happiness is not a product to be bought as a one sided parcel. Happiness, Success, Gratification, Love, ... those terms which marketing campaigns use so freely are not one dimensional, they´re movable and subjective.

I dream of an educational system that motivates, that strives to make the best cement ever. One that raises hopes, drowns fears, and frees mistakes and failures of its bad name. Children will be lost, in a maze of questions, doubts and confusion. Darkness will appear, but none of them will fear, because they will have a torch to light their way, their chosen path, and they will cross the maze in pure joy, looking back to see their footsteps deepen in solitude, realizing no other child will walk along this route. It is unique, and it will lead anywhere they choose their home to be.

"If I had all the answers, my ignorance would be unquestionable" Smartynats