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Goran Kimovski

Senior Technology Consultant, OperatingDev.com

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What is the true value (if any) of organized schooling?

There are so many people suggesting that schools kill creativity, learning is innate & children can learn by themselves, no real life skills are acquired in the current school system, etc. -- the list is really long! If this is all true and we all agree that organized schooling needs big reform, I think we have to step back and ask the ultimate question about the value of organized schooling!

I make a distinction between learning, education and schooling -- with schooling being an attempt to govern/institutionalize education and education representing formalized learning. I think this is important as often people refer to school as the only place where education happens, ignoring programs like the Khan Academy or not to mention the millions of homeschoolers in US alone. They also confuse education with learning, but Sugata Mitra's child-driven education shows that the learning that happens when kids are given tools and left on their own devices is neither formal, nor it can be governed. (He uses the term education tad wrongly, though I suppose with purpose as his is an example of bringing learning and education together.)

I would like to challenge the TED community to think about the value of their own schooling or the value their kids currently in the school system are getting and share their thoughts here!

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  • Mar 21 2011: I'd like to reference the Royal Society for the Advancement of the Arts (a British organization similar to TED).
    http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/2010/10/14/rsa-animate-changing-education-paradigms/

    In the video, the speaker mentions something - the fact that today's schooling is still based on the outdated industrial revolution. Whereas I wouldn't go so far as to say the parallel englightenment period thinking should be done away with, there are some considerations that should be made. The speaker made the following points:

    1.) Public schools were designed for the industrial revolution and in the image of them.
    2.) You've got factory type schedules (Think how bells mimic shift-changes for factory workers)
    3.) You've got compartmentalized departments (For example, is statistics math or social science? Knowledge doesn't have an intrinsic line of demarcation and we should be emphasizing interdisciplinary thinking in todays age.
    4.) Students are created in batches (classroom) where their - apparently - most important commonality is the year of manafacture (See how students are grouped together as class of 2011, or 2012. This inadequately explains real learning differences between students of the same age).
    5.) Finally, no student is the same and a society that aims at creating a standardized human population will not survive, especially today. Ford's assembly works great with building cars but when it comes to people, you quickly begin to realize that some come pre-built, some with parts missing, some even without instructions. Some of the same parts go in different places for different students. It's like saying a one-size fits all t-shirt is going to fit an octopus.

    To answer the question, I do have concerns about publicly mandated schooling, and about the way such programs fit into democracies in general. There is way too much of a distinction between school and life. The two aren't naturally separated and to doing so just increases the tension of the student.

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