The other day I was thinking about education. Fairly early in my thought process a video I had seen a couple of years back came to mind. It was an RSA Animate (I love RSA Animates) of a speech given by Sir Ken Robinson. As one might expect from a speech given by someone with a ‘sir’ title in front of their name, it brings up many good points about the nature of the current state of our education. I would highly recommend a watch:
For people who didn’t (but should) watch the video, one piece of Sir Ken Robinson’s talk has to do with the structure of our educational system. He believes that it is created in the image of industrialization. One example Sir Ken Robinson gives of this is that kids are organized into classes by age, as if that is the most important attribute that they have in common. He notes that many kids are better or worse than others of their age at different subjects, or at different times of day, or in smaller or larger groups. He does not offer a concrete solution to reorganize our educational system, but instead attempts to break the paradigm of standardization. Standardization causes us to force students to work on their own to come up with the single ‘correct’ solution to a problem, when typically in the real world people work in groups to come up with many solutions to problems.
The inadequacies of our current system of education to prepare children for the world they will be brought into is what my recent thoughts on education have rested on. When my mother and father went through their education if they sought information they needed to either have the facts memorized, find someone who did, or go to the library. I believe our educational system still reflects this concept of our world, that facts are some of the most important pieces of information you must learn. But the nature of our current situation, one in which any concrete fact is increasingly available whenever and wherever one might need it by using a computer or a smart phone or any device capable of accessing the internet, should cause us to reconsider our educational system.
In essence, I believe that a system that focuses on the memorization of facts to be one which is rapidly becoming outdated. In the world we are entering in which all information is constantly accessible, what becomes important is not memorizing that information, but learning how to use it. We need to focus on teaching how to ask the right questions, to look for the right information, and to process it in ways in which help you solve problems you are faced with. The focus of education should be to learn the creative process of understanding and overcoming problems by utilizing the tools at your disposal.