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What are the limitations that keep new educational designs from being implemented tomorrow in schools and especially in higher education?

School is my awful job and learning is my amazing hobby; This has been my take on life ever since and contrary to what I thought would happen, it hasn't changed in the last few months of college, when I have actually found that undergraduate studies aren't much different from its earlier analogous structures in what concerns quality of learning.
I figured something would change in college, it had to. No institution of higher education would, like it had always been done before, only try to standardize me through disengaging processes of memorization and mechanization in class, and then test me for it, but they did so, and so I keep dragging my feet through the halls like I always did, uninspired by it all.
Well, here I am watching 10 TED talks and having more fun than I had in any of my classes so far, where I am basically taught simple things as if they were complicated instead of the opposite.
I think the education systems we have are all about making us easily browsable encyclopedias of knowledge and funny looking calculators without ever compelling us to make our own connections between concepts and subjects, understanding them at their core or questioning the underlying mechanisms that drive the phenomena we study, but why? Why does this happen when we have computers that are infinitely better at storing data then our brain and when we know that in order to come up with creative solutions to real life problems we have to do so much more than just recall previous knowledge; also, there is an important link between the education of today and the leader of tomorrow, and if we continue using the educational techniques of yesterday then we will keep having the same uninspired (to say the least) leaders of today. Now my question is: Do you think this is a problem? Exactly what is causing this? Is it a economic or a sociological issue? Does the academic world want to solve this? Does the corporate world? Do the governments? Do you think it can be solved? How?


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  • Nov 12 2012: First and foremost, I would like to say that I'm a big fan of Ken Robinson as well, and I have discussed his ideas at length with professors at my own university as well as alumni, family and friends. The opportunities we have to access information and knowledge are endless, so we are fortunate to that extent, but I would like to tell a short story to show how I relate to what your topic is about.

    By the time I was in junior high school I was already becoming disinterested in subjects like the sciences and math because my teachers were never giving me a reason to study them. In grade 10, when my teacher was reviewing the Pythagorean Theorem with us in class, I stopped her in the middle of her explanation and asked her, "Why are we learning this? What are we ever going to use it for? How is this practical?" The only answer she gave me was, "You have to learn it because it's in the curriculum." Dissatisfying to say the least; however, there is something fundamental that you are missing out on, and you can draw from Foucault to see it. The issue is discourse, both in the philosophical sense and also by its sociological definition as well.

    Power relations are not nearly as linear as Foucault wrote; rather, they're circular as well as hierarchical, and it takes a great deal of effort to change the discourses of any part of society. I have managed to do this in my own classes by subverting the concrete expectations of my professors and exposing them to my own newer ways of thinking, writing, learning, etc. As the practices of education will not change overnight, perhaps you are thinking in too broad of a spectrum for now.

    Try actively learning differently. If nobody in your classes usually puts up their hand to ask a question, put yours up. If you're professors asks you to write about one thing, think of your own topic instead and ask your professor if you can write on that. There's more than one way to approach university to get the most of it.
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      Nov 17 2012: Oh, Mitchell, our conversation ran out below, so i'll use your comment here to continue from below. I thought you might enjoy a book by a friend of mine, scott slovic, called Going Away to think. He is a literary critic, specifically of environmental literature, and he also believes that a critic should inject something of him/herself into his/her criticism. My mother was a second-grade teacher, and she said her kids always perked up, listened hard, when she would tell them something about her home life, her husband or her children.

      You must be a brave person to question your teachers and try different things. Where do you get your bravery? What do you study, where?
      • Nov 19 2012: Wow, thank you Greg. It's not often than any person receives such a compliment.

        I'm a student at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I'm in the Honours Program in the Faculty of Arts, and decided my major in my first year as English. I suppose my bravery comes from a few lessons I learned as I grew up. One was from my father, and goes something like, "Your happiness is your own, and nobody is going to look after it except for you. Do what's best for you and those around you." Another was from my grade 9 Language Arts teacher. He taught me to always think about all the things I hear, read, or see. Turn them over in my mind, and come up with my own opinion. That's how you grow into wisdom.

        There are other things I learned growing up, but one thing I've realized on my own is that more often than not it's better to keep yourself uncomfortable. It's by keeping yourself vulnerable that you can really affect your own life and the lives of those around you, despite what their stature is within society. People need to have their buttons push, because if nobody is willing to do that, to push against the current, then society is going to stagnate and change will never happen. Bravery is only a small part of the equation, the more important things are false bravado and an irrationally deep belief in yourself.
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          Nov 22 2012: thanks, mitch. Say, I'm wondering what questions interest you in life as I have seen statements in your comments but not questions. by the way, if you ever want any TEDster to have the option to send you email, you should actually fill out your profile, as you have to give permission to the website to let people send you email.

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