I’m not that smart. I don’t think my IQ would register that high. Never measured it, probably because I am afraid of the result. I am trying to improve my cognitive function theses days. I enjoy learning. I didn’t always. Which brings me to this week’s blog topic. Education. Can anyone argue against “getting a good education”. Children whose parents went to college have a tendency to go to college. Children whose parents did not go to college want their children to go so they can get get a “good education”. That way, they don’t end up in a “dead end job”. I am certainly an advocate for getting a good education. I am much more of an advocate of being intelligent and a lifelong learner. This is the question I am continually asking myself. Is going to grade school the best way to achieve intelligence, a lifelong curiosity and love of learning?
Right now, with the system we have in place, I do not think it is.
School is not a bad thing. It is a needed part of society. Kids need to be exposed to information. Parents often need somewhere for their kids to go while they are at work. And there is the social exposure that the students develop.
The problem is that schools have not evolved their curriculum and methodologies fast enough to keep up with the changing of our world. Children are not empty vessels that are simply ”filled up” with information and facts to be subsequently regurgitated on a test in order to please teachers or parents. Those who can do it well are considered smart. Those who are not interested or have trouble remembering could possibly be labeled as not bright. It seems a cruel label that can stick with a child for years. He or she might be able to build an incredible Lego building, or sing any number of songs beautifully, but to not be able to do a reading comprehension assignment on a book they didn’t particularly enjoy may affiliate them with a negative label at 6 years old. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but if it happens enough……….
Students and adults in the workforce today need creativity, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills and the ability to collaborate and get along with others. Schools could be the vessel to do this, but it will take some reform.
I do not feel I was very well educated in school. It is not any of the teachers fault. They were hardworking, wonderful people who tried their best with the curriculum that they were given. I take full responsibility for not “applying” myself. I just did not like school. Fortunately I was smart enough to “do” school. In High School, I paid enough attention to pass most tests, and for those I was unsure if I would pass, I crammed the night before so that I would pass, with the information gone from my head as fast as I could answer the questions. English class was not for boys to excel in. It was “not cool”. So I barely tried at all. It did not help that the assigned reading was Jane Austen, D.H. Lawrence and the like. I don’t remember ever getting a chance to choose my own books after grade 4 or 5. (Though my memory of school before grade 6 is hazy at best. My memory of last week is also hazy) I knew that I would go to university after Grade 12. It seemed the only way to get a “good” job and have a happy life. I am living proof that it is possible to go right through college (in some fields), bullshit your way through subjective courses, come out the other side with a degree, get a job, and not be all that smart.
Does any of this sound familiar? Now I am not saying a degree is a waste of time. I am not advocating that at all. And I am sure that I picked up some problem solving skills and critical thinking skills just by being there. It is much better than 4 years of watching reality TV eating Cheetos on the couch.
But for me, the amount of information I need to put into my head to get even a small portion of learning to take place seems staggering. I don’t know how to learn. School turned me off learning and it is taking me a tremendous amount of time and effort now to relearn how to learn. What is my point in this ramble? It’s the following. Young children are wired to learn. They WANT to learn. They can’t get enough of it. They can learn languages, counting, reading, empathy, compassion, and facts all on their own by 4 years of age. Why do our educational institutions take the passion to learn away from many of them?
Clearly that’s not the goal of school, but I feel it is happening in some places. I base this opinion on my own experience and my children’s experience. Standardized testing, memorization, pressure to perform, excessive homework and lack of autonomy for students can drive away the passion to learn. (I’m sure Jane Austen was a great author, but I really didn’t have a passion to read her novels when I was 16)
How do we get it back? Good question. There are people smarter than me looking at this problem and trying to find answers. (They must have applied themselves.)