I bet a lot of you were coming here, after looking this question up on Google. Maybe you’re frustrated about your school for a variety of reasons. Before you read on let me raise a disclaimer. This article is more focused on a hypothesis. I have no solution for you how to bail out without negative side effects. Please consider this piece as a personal opinion to invoke thoughts and maybe to spark ideas of innovation.
What do people think about their past experiences from the time when they went to school? Did you enjoy it? Do you feel that what you learned there prepared you for the challenges you have in your life nowadays?
Often people I am talking to feel like they can use not a single thing that was taught in their school. Usually schools force us to visit them for about a whole decade. In some areas of the world it’s more time, in other areas it’s less time you visit schools. Is all the time and effort absolutely in vain? Also schools cost us a lot of money. Is that just burning the budget?
Personally I don’t recall much from my school time that proved to be useful in my real life. Agreed – if you have a degree, you are likely to be better paid than a person without a degree. That happens whether you like it or not.
Never again in my life did I calculate something with pen and paper. Okay, I am not in a scientific field of work, but I am in a financial sector. Trust me, they don’t want your human math there. Computers do that a lot better without tendencies for human error. That’s why we called them “computer” in the first place. That used to be a human profession for counting and calculating from back in the days.
Maybe the conception of schools is overdue to be redesigned. I could imagine we could achieve a more effective learning experience if we mixed MOOCs and international learning or on-demand material with classic lectures. Perhaps we need to prepare young people how they will need to work in their later live. Give them assignments and not dictate them how to achieve completion. Let’s be real. It’s cold reality that we get questions for which we don’t know the answers. We get tasks and have no idea how to tackle them. The research and investigation is an essential part of producing a solution. If teachers didn’t define an ideal work path along with an ideal solution, they will be surprised what the students might come up with.
Also please be mindful that there are introverts as well as extroverts in class. Don’t dictate what they have to do on their own and what they have to do in a group and how large that group should be. Let them dynamically decide how they want to produce results. One person might achieve a lot more alone than in a group of people if that’s how they work. As a teacher you merely need to consider how many people worked on a single product for weighting and scoring. Beyond that, why dictate everything and frustrate students? Pushing them out of their comfort zone? You’re more likely pushing them out of the window.
I also think students should be more in control of what they are trying to achieve and learn. I never did well in subjects that contained no relevant learnings for me personally. For things I cared about, I knew everything already. Most importantly, assess the motivation and buy-in of the teachers. Are they educators or are they bureaucrats faking to educate? Get the fakers out of this space. Those people should not have an influence on children and young adults. And yes, while I typed that, my index finger magically pointed towards the door. Educators need to inspire to learn new ways, not manage-out underperformers.
So let’s get back to our question, which also named this article. Are schools really necessary? I think they are not necessary but schooling is and learning is. Maybe the methodology and the conception is outdated and does not match our culture and technology anymore, but it is more relevant than ever to learn and keep learning. I don’t think you need to store every bit of information in your brain, but you should teach students the skills to think critical, construct logic, being creative and finding innovative solutions for dynamic problems.
Good socialization is relevant and learning to “be” together with others. Feeling to be part of a community and a group. Learning empathy, compassion, joy and success. Learning that work will be rewarded – not learning that only the one “right” answer scores the rewards. This is what school should look like. Those are the values and objectives that we must teach the next generations.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Are you happy with the schools and how they work right now? Do you have a story to share about your own school time or maybe from your children? I would love to hear from you. Please drop us your input below in the comment section. Thanks for reading!
Photo credit: Pier-Luc Bergeron / John Christian Fjellestad / Sam Wolff