That word is so much cooler than “education.”
Anyway, the education system in America, and possibly even the whole world, needs a major overhaul. The problem lies with the tradition of students going to several years of public school, then attending a college or university of some kind. Apparently (read: according to society), without this essential experience of college education, students aren’t worthy of holding a job. Of course, what complicates this further is the catch-22 of people needing job experience before they hold a position anywhere.
Going to school is expensive. Public schools require our tax money, and colleges require tuition and possibly even more tax money if they are supported by the government. Work experience is hard to come by unless it is in the form of jobs on the burger flipping level of difficulty, in which case it probably wouldn’t contribute much to competency in needed skills. Employers and institutions both miss what really is most beneficial to young people looking to get a job – relevant, paid work experience.
While this is less practical in elementary and middle school education, where students should focus on basic reading, math, science, computer skills and even some history, literature, art, and other culture simply so they can participate in society as literate and somewhat knowledgable people. Beyond that, it’s understandable how some basic skills and general education might still be necessary, but they should be examined carefully and individually every year to ensure this is the case before it is mandated that every student take classes for them. The majority of a student’s later education should focus on what he or she will be doing in the field (as in, what he or she most enjoys doing and is best at), and try to mimic the field as much as possible.
Among other things, this means a severe and merciless examination of the purpose of tests.
In my humble opinion (you can tell it’s humble because I told you it was), generic tests are the worst way to measure the intelligence of an individual. Apart from the fact that most tests simply require memorization and perhaps the occasional thinking question, people are different from each other and should be evaluated in different ways. Rather than requiring the passing of a test to signify successful education, students should be able to choose between various methods of evaluation, some of which may include the following: writing an essay, giving a speech, teaching a class, assembling an exhibit, compiling a professional report, demonstrating concepts with homemade examples, etc. By implementing different ways to test people, better evaluations can be made because choice allows students to pick a method that allows them to present themselves in the best way possible. They can pick the test that is most comfortable for them, and which is most conducive to allowing them to succeed.
In addition to using different methods of testing, education should involve different methods of teaching. Some students learn better alone, some better in groups. Some better from live people, some better from videos, others from books, articles, personal experience, and some by teaching others in various ways. Students should be able to choose the way in which they learn to best suit their wants and needs.
The reason this argument needs to exist is because people are fundamentally different, and institutions don’t realize that. Some people adapt very well the tediousness of memorization and the concept of finding the one right answer which is present in so much of our current schooling. These people are similar to those who established and especially who maintain the current system of order. They find it in their interest to keep things stable, even if that means keeping them the way they always were. However, every so often, this order should be checked for the plagues of bureaucracy, inefficiency, and ineffectiveness. If any are present, the current order should be quickly and unceremoniously overthrown, and then replaced with new and superior methods.
We are at such a time now. The world is changing at unprecedented speeds, and the current education system is nowhere near equipped enough to handle it. At the rate students are learning now the world will leave them far behind as it advances in technology and culture without them.
We need bold students who will spread these ideas to teachers and administrators. We need advocates who will encourage others to act. We need the keepers of the current system to understand the need for change and allow for flexibility in policy.
This change will not and should not happen too suddenly. Even good changes may bring about disaster if wrought too quickly. Instead, deliberate, careful, yet bold action should be taken immediately to plan for the future of education. Only after time will the full results of the combined efforts of concerned students, parents, and teachers manifest themselves in a magnificent revolution of education.
Let us take action now to prepare a better way of learning for the children of the future.