What if Everything We Think About School is Wrong
As a homeschooler, what I believe about real education contradicted by the pressure of doing what most people think school should look like, haunts me day and night.
There are a few, desperately pleading education reformers out there saying the most logical things human ears have heard, but are largely ignored because, “the status quo.” We must do what others are doing, no matter what logic we are confronted with. Because if we don’t, we must face our greatest bully: FEAR.
School vs. Education
Schooling isn’t really education. Why do we force children to learn things that will have little to no bearing in their adult years, that will rob them of learning more valuable skills, that robs them of pursuing passions and interests leading to meaningful careers and accomplishments?
Let’s consider the idea that yes, people can and do learn what they need to when they need to. And really, that’s the only time any of us ever really learn anything.
What Determines Success
Can we talk about how the really important things that determine one’s success in life (the universal definition of success is really “peace”) are never taught in school or in a curriculum, and what a tragic disservice that is to our children? That experience is the real classroom and even Albert Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Can we talk about the sorely lacking life skills among our young adults which costs them money which means their salaries are reduced by being forced to hire other people to solve their problems?
There are so many more things…
Free From Fear
This is how I feel and what I long to be able to embrace, free from fear, in our home one day soon.
The following are all thoughts from artificial intelligence theorist, cognitive psychologist, learning scientist, educational reformer, and entrepreneur, Roger Schank, who says it better than I:
“High schools have failed. They are all about college prep but they shouldn’t be. It is not the role of the high school system to make admissions decisions easier for colleges. Now, colleges dictate the high school curriculum by “suggesting” that students take certain subjects before they apply. The colleges need to be encouraged to ask for examples of thinking ability, communication ability, and being able to get along with others. Then, the colleges themselves can teach whatever they think their new admits need to know….
The very idea of academic subjects in high school needs to be replaced. Most high school students do not go on to become academics. Students need to be helped to learn to think and should learn skills by actually doing them. The skills they learn should relate to actual things adults need to do. For example, why are there no child raising courses, or courses on how to speak well, or courses on how to get a job, or courses on how to deal with personal finance? Everyday skills matter.”
“Math teachers think I am an idiot, which is usual despite the fact that there exists no evidence whatsoever that learning algebra helps you learn to think. Working at anything that required careful reasoning would teach you to think. Math should be taught in context as needed. Build a bridge and you will learn to think. You may need to learn some math as well. Why do we jam this stuff down kids heads despite their interests? It never stays there. No one remembers algebra who fails to use it regularly and very few of us use it at all.”
“We can’t afford to have the vast majority of the population incapable of engaging in anything more that superficial thought. A population that has learned to hate school is one that is full of people who would rather watch TV than think. We don’t even bother to teach people how to raise children or how to have reasonable human relationships. Why don’t we expose students to child rearing, or getting along with others, or how to work, or how to start a business, or how to manage you own finances? Because we must expose them to Cervantes, or Dante, or to Moliere. Pick your country and you will get the intellectuals “must expose” argument. But all this exposure is not working very well. We are not producing the kinds of citizens who can engage in rational arguments and make good decisions about their own lives.”
“What should you study in high school, or more importantly, because there are more choices, in college? Let’s start with what you shouldn’t study. Study no academic subject. Do not study English, History, Math, Physics, Biology, or any of the other standard subjects that one always starts with in high school. Whoa! Did I really say that? Heresy. So, why not then?…
So what should you go to school for? This is really an easy question to answer. First ask yourself what you really like to do in life, what you think about on a regular basis, whom you admire, and whom you wish to be? Only you can answer those questions. When you come up with answers, ask if there are jobs in that area. Be creative. Make up a job if you don’t think one exists. Ask what you need to learn to do in order to become a person who thinks about or does all day whatever it is you like to think about and do all day. Extrapolate up. If you like working on your car, maybe you would like working on airplanes or ships for example. If you like hanging out and talking, ask yourself who gets paid to do that (salesmen?). Find out where those who do what seems to be fun learned to do it. Often the answer is “on the job.” If that is the answer ask yourself how you can get a low level job in that area and work your way up. People learn by doing. Ask how you can start doing.
If you do need training to start doing what you want, find a community college that offers that kind of training. Most of all do not go to school if you have no inkling at all about what you think you would like to learn to do. Work for a while and start finding out more about the world, then ask the above questions again.”
“How do we choose who studies the elite subjects? We don’t.
Offer choices. Stop making lists of what one must know and start putting students into situations where they can learn from experience while attempting to accomplish goals that they set out for themselves, just as people did before there were schools. Education has always been the same: learning from experience with the help from wiser mentors. School has screwed that all up and it is time to go back to basics.”