TED Conversations

Tao P
  • Tao P
  • Vancouver B.c
  • Canada


This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

If the state is so bad at raising children, how come we allow the state to educate our children?

It's obvious that our educational system is broken, but who is willing to take action to create a new system? Much of learning can be broken down into how much attention does a child get. In a classroom that's almost nil, as a teachers time is spread between 30 students. Studies also clearly show that grading children has a detrimental effect on them. So why do we continue this waste of resources that is also a waste of our children's potential.

What is an alternative to the current method of education. Is there a way to light the fire of children's curiosity rather than smothering it with facts.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Nov 6 2012: The education system where I live could be better, but it could also be worse. I, for one, am very grateful for the public education that was available to me in Canada (BC in fact). That was some time ago now and I imagine in this time of austerity the system has been constrained and is probably worse than when I went to school. Nevertheless we should be thankful for what we have.

    It is true there are alternative methods, with more individualized care, but that requires more funding and we have to be willing to actually fund the education system. I have heard many times that we need to make grand changes to how kids are educated, but when it comes time to pay up, nobody wants to pay for the taxes and most people can't afford private school for their children.

    The sad truth is school is supposed to be for education but it is in many ways it is essentially day care. The reason people don't home school more is the fact that parents simply don't have the time. Often both parents must work to get by cannot afford to leave the work force to educate their children themselves. In order to take on the huge task of education, people have to live with a lot less, and may have to give up the idea of owning their own home, or making enough money for their children's post secondary education. These can be tough decisions.
    • thumb
      Nov 6 2012: Yes there are good things in the school system but I believe that for the amount of resources dedicated to that system, there's little return on the investment. I believe we can come up with a system that requires far less outside input and can contribute more to society than the glorified babysitting that is currently going on.
      • thumb
        Nov 7 2012: It is hard to gauge what the return on investment is for education. How would you measure it? In the strict sense of the term, it doesn't and never will, since public education is by its nature not profitable. As far a a general sense of the benefit to society for having education, it is almost impossible to understand without growing up in a culture that does not have access to it.

        However, I do strongly disagree with your reply in one regard. The is the persistent idea floating around that the problem with education is that it isn't efficient enough. That we put so much in and don't get enough out. All we have to do is reform the system and we will be able to have wonderfully educated, mentally healthy, creative, individually catered to children. That just isn't true.

        Its no mystery what kids need. We need smaller classes, more individualized learning, special care for kids with special needs and opportunities for the gifted kids to shine. We need sports, arts, science labs, trades shops and access to technology. We need counsellors to help teens in hard times and to help fight bullying and drug addiction. All of those things take resources.

        When we strive for efficiency instead of quality in education we get all of the problems that we have. We get larger class sizes and less support for teachers. We get economy of scale, enormous schools with as few employees as possible. We get efficient quality control of education, which turns out to be standardized testing. We get cutbacks to anything that doesn't improve results on those standardized test.

        The idea that we can get more for our kids for less investment is the root of our problems in education. We need to get more for our kids with more resources.

        We simply need to give the education system the resources it deserves. It is not some bloated ineffective monster; it is a bare bones, underfunded machine that pumps out grads.

        We need to fund it properly.
        • thumb
          Nov 7 2012: When I state that it takes a tremendous amount of resources to get very little results I am meaning that most of the effort is wasted. It's like trying to grow a tree by watering it every few hours, fanning it for more air and placing mirrors to give it more light. ALl that effort and you'll likely kill the tree. All the effort in education tends to kill children's curiosity, their love of learning.

          This is where I see the potential. Instead of attempting to fill children with facts, we need to actively try and spark their curiosity, their enthusiasm. This is a program that in all likely-hood will not work in a rigid bureaucratic system that relies on tests.
      • Nov 7 2012: "Yes there are good things in the school system but I believe that for the amount of resources dedicated to that system, there's little return on the investment."

        Compared to what? Other countries (that also have public schools), or private schools (that admit students selectively)? What is your reference point?
      • thumb
        Nov 7 2012: Back during the recession of the 80's, schools were shutting down in some states due to lack of funding. I stopped over in a small town in New Mexico where the teachers were volunteering to keep the schools open. I let my son enter school for one week to catch up while we looked for work along our trip to Colorado. He loved it. The teachers were taking brown paper bags from charity, to use in class. They did creative things and the kids loved it, learning increased. That all changed when financial times became better and learning became more affordable. It got worse. Still, I'm sure teachers would not volunteer forever, they have to eat too. Maybe there is a fine line between adequately funded and over funded.
        • Nov 7 2012: "Maybe there is a fine line between adequately funded and over funded."

          You might be right, but I think that's primarily an American problem. On one hand you have people like "Tao P" who see it as a given that public education sucks, on the other hand you have the hysterical teacher unions who keep repeating they're underpaid, even some of my favorite progressive commentators fall for this and say things like "Finland actually pays its teachers a decent wage", while American teacher wages are comparable to European, including Finnish, teacher wages, even when you factor in PPP (this comparison is quite reliable because American teachers do get "free" health care, like all Europeans, but unlike many American employees). American schools are also ruined by parents having so much influence over them, nobody needs fat, suburban teabagging moms, with apparently nothing better to do, actively trying to get the biology teacher fired for teaching sex ed or evolution. American schools mostly need investments in equipment and science teachers (all the other teachers are already taken care of just fine) and they need to make sure the amount of money a school receives doesn't depend on the neighborhood it's in.


          "By locking them up in and forcing them to complete meanningless homework we tend to rid them of their love for learning"

          It's not "meaningless", language is very important in the business world, history is necessary to have educated voters and math and the exact sciences keep the modern world going. When I was a kid I didn't want to play or tend to a garden all day, I actually liked book learnin'.
        • thumb
          Nov 7 2012: It's less about the amount of funding and more about the stifling bureaucracy in the classroom. I love Moonstroller's point about the volunteering teachers; it's not about them working for free as much as the freedom they had to do what they thought was right. We need to (re)-set up a system that trusts teachers, that respects children's ability to learn and one that aims to inspire kids over cramming them full of facts. This is why I think 'public' and private education is broken.

          My point about wasted resources is not that we pay teachers to much, it's that children are far more valuable than we are led to believe. We could set up a educational system in which children learn by setting up a community garden and running it for a year (or more). There are countless ways in which children could contribute to their communities while learning and having fun. By locking them up in and forcing them to complete meanningless homework we tend to rid them of their love for learning

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.