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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 10 2012: Originality has to be rewarded for it to flourish. Most of what I've learned was self-taught, not from my education. How do you teach a thirst for knowledge? You do it by finding teachers that promote thinking over rote memorization. If you want to produce engineers, then rote memorization may be desirable. If you want to "create" Nobel Laureates, then rote memorization will stiffle originaltity.

    Yes we have a leadership problem. Politicians can't be innovators because they require consensus, thus any revolutionary ideas will not pass through the palace guard. There will be very little "out of the box" thinking despite what might be professed.

    Look at what happened when Paul Ryan tried to take on Medicare; the Republicans were vilified for raising the spectre of vouchers, yet Medicare is unsustainable. So what happens? We keep going down a path that is clearly wrong i.e. we are burying our heads in the sand over Medicare---we'll deal with that in the future. The future is here yet we are still ignoring the obvious---we will either cut benefits, increase taxes, or increase the debt. There are no other options long-term. Our leaders lack the vision to take on the big issues. Just look at America's approach to energy. Let's drill for oil, frack for gas and mine coal. How can we have vision when most Americans just look at their pocketbooks?

    Visionaries are viewed as crackpots and crackpots don't drive policy---politiicians do.
    • Nov 10 2012: Thank you the reply and for being the first person to answer to my thread Richard.

      Well I am not American so I don't have enough insight to critically speak about Medicare but I definitely agree with what you said about the solution for change in education depending on finding good thinkers who are willing to think together with their students, but then again, isn't it easier for them not to?

      In the same way that students benefit more by not thinking to much since they already have a ton of ridiculous work to do, teachers also have this problem. And even though there are the ones who are simply obtuse (and they do exist), don't have anything to give and deny any benefit form this way of teaching, there are many more who might like to do this exercise but cannot because they still have tests to correct, meaningless meetings to attend, a certain number of pages they have teach for each lecture and many more systemic issues that once again keep the creative answers from emerging.
      • Nov 19 2012: João,
        I don't know what field you are studying in but there are quite a few situations where memorization is a key element to understanding the facts. For example, I'm a third year health science student and in my first two years I had to take a myriad of courses that taught medical terms, how cells work, basic chemical principles that all had to be simply memorized so that this year and further down the road, I can understand the body, how it works and be able to communicate effectively with others in my field about it.
        While I do agree that the school system needs to be changed, maybe don't be so quick to abolish teaching students how to memorize, it does come in handy. Perhaps the solution to the education problem is in learning to more evenly split the curriculum from a younger age between teaching children to memorize and teaching them to be innovative.

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