This conversation is closed.

Why is the idea of education so strongly tied to a structured and systematic way of learning? Do other teaching styles have equal value?

In light of psychology, learning has been discovered to be a much more complex thing than ever thought, yet schools are only beginning to experiment with different styles of education.

  • thumb
    Dec 6 2011: Why is the idea of education so strongly tied to a structured and systematic way of learning?

    Simple. Historically organized education arose to meet the need for slightly better workers in the factories of the industrial revolution. They were organized to produce mass educated drones who were replaceable parts in a factory that ran 7 days a week 18 hours a day.
    The only variation is that since WWII they have also served as daycare - babysitting services so more adults could be freed into the workplace to earn disposable income for the corporations to profit by and to pay taxes for govts to piss away.

    Do other teaching styles have equal value?
    Equal? Tough question - for whom? The "system" was never intended to benefit the individual student, only the corporations, the govts and the parents.
    A child-centered, open-learning situation organized to foster creativity and to stimulate critical thinking would not serve the state - who need drones in order to govern even half-assedly, nor the corporations who need ignorant wage-earners to exploit for profit.

    Intelligent, critical thinkers who can create their own futures would be the governments worst nightmare.

    To paraphrase Bernard De Mandeville, C1725, "To govern effectively, the mass of people must be kept poor and ignorant.'
  • Dec 5 2011: In my experience, there are many ways to get an education. That having been said, I feel most education at the beginning is for the purpose of teaching reading, writing and math. Once a child knows these basics, there is no end to learning.
    Anyone you meet potentially can "educate" you.

    To offer education using different styles, you would still have to educate the educator about the different styles they could use.......how will you go about doing that? We're back to the structured and systematic way. It's the easiest because local and state government funds it, money is involved.

    There are alot of teachers out there who are free thinkers. They know good teaching is a work of 'heart'. They know you cannot reduce good teaching to a 'technique', since it is borne from the identity and integrity of the teacher. They change their techniques daily, and sometimes many times within a day....depending on the subject and her students' abilities. Some students have the priviledge of being exposed to their teaching style. Textbooks are wonderful, but they are a starting point.

    Another point to consider, is that some parents feel inept when it comes to educating their children. I happen to know teachers who would never consider taking their children out of school and educating them using alternative methods. 'I don't have the patience', is usually what they'll say to me. I'm left speechless each time I hear those words from a teacher.


    Anyways, great topic of conversation. I hope what little I contributed helps.
  • thumb
    Nov 29 2011: I was until recently an education student in Canada. My professors said that we only teach what we can measure. Subjective things like "appreciation" and "understanding" were just airy-fairy words that didn't mean anything because they couldn't be measured objectively. The right way to teach math, therefore, is through algorithms to solve specific problems. You can give a worksheet full of problems and objectively count up how many of them the student has correctly applied the algorithm. It is meaningless to ask, according to this theory, whether the student "understand" or "appreciates" what he is doing, because those are not measurable objectives.

    The teacher thinks he is teaching, and the student thinks he is learning. The administrator walks past the classroom and looks in the door and sees a room full of busy students hard at work. I challenged the idea that this is the purpose of education, and I am no longer a student at the University of Winnipeg.
    • thumb
      Nov 29 2011: That's the heart of the matter. Doing away with bureaucrats and their meddling would be the first obvious step to improving most education delivery systems.

      Experience seems to most of us to lead to conclusions, but empiricism has sworn never to draw them.
      George Santayana.
      • Nov 30 2011: I agree completely - when the government takes an issue like this into their own hands, they can't help but create a largely universal fix. But this blanketed system of education is exactly what we need to get away from. Though it's not quite as easy as creating a universal solution, we need to begin to center the idea of education around the individual, and cater to the needs of that individual as they evolve.
  • thumb
    Dec 6 2011: Two words, tradition and fear0f the unknown, abetted by a lack of faith in the natural desire of children to learn and the stubborn egocentric superstition that learning is the same for everyone and needs to be put on a schedule. Any open minded observant individual will soon notice that there are many different learning styles and that everyone has their own maturation curve. Other than identical twins the differences between most individuals are remarkable and similarities only coincidental, other than very broad averages like Piagets description of a rough progression that "most " children experience. Instead of asking if "other teaching styles have equal value?" the question should be how much better most other styles are. In Utah they have stopped testing home schooled kids because the test results were so embarrassing to the NEA.
  • Dec 5 2011: Here's a quote from a book I once read about education in America:

    "Education in America is a mile wide, but an inch deep".
  • thumb
    Dec 23 2011: In developed countries education has marched to the drum of industrial and military complexes. Universities are dependent upon funding, grants, endowments, etc ... A big part of selecting a school is what you want to do and where you want to do it at. Want to fly fighter jets be a ring knocker from Air force or Naval Academy. Want to work in Texas as an engineer show the Aggie ring. Big firms hire Harvard and Yale Law graduates. Old and established schools offer their product (student) as a result of a structured and systematic programs that turns out a dependable product that meets the users needs. When this is no longer true (or precieved so) change will occur. Education is a multi billion dollar industry that resists change. Could you learn as well with a lop top as you can with a text book. Sure, but it will not happen. Administration out weighs teaching staff. Why. Why not an MBA for $50,000 instead of a Superintendent at the high school level for $100 to $200 plus thousand with lots of perks. Other styles have equal to or greater value but since the fox is guarding the hen house they will not be implemented on a large scale. There is an explosion of Charter and private schools attesting to the growing discontent with the current system. In view of the latest PISA scores and the change in the worlds leading schools agendas, change in the United States cannot be far off. In the three caregories of the PISA results the US was in the lowest category (poor). A participate at a conference stated that the US educational system is broke. I replied that it is not broke but doing exactly what it was designed to do in 1945. The change must include using 21st century technology and 22nd century needs as can best be projected. In order to do this teaching colleges and teacher unions must get on board. Finally the education of the countries students must be more about the student and less about propaganda for the country.
  • thumb
    Dec 19 2011: There is no room for experimentation and innovation in education systems that are controlled by government coercion. The forms of education in a free society would be far superior to public schools, because individuals can best determine what is needed for their intellectual development.
    • Dec 19 2011: What do you mean by a free society?
      • thumb
        Dec 20 2011: I guess I should have clarified what I meant. A free society is one where there is no government coercion or at least it is brought to a minimum. Instead all goods and services are provided privately through voluntary exchange. For education this means an incentive (the possibility for profit) to invent and test all sorts methods to educate people. Failure would result in loss, not in increased government funding, which in effect rewards the bureaucrats for inefficiency and deteriorating quality.
        • Dec 21 2011: We need a moderate government. This is because without order, there is only chaos. Also, people are naturally lazy and they will find cheaper or lazier means of providing education which will be horrible.
      • thumb
        Dec 22 2011: The absence of government does not result in chaos. Individuals demand order and it is supplied like any other good or service. There are examples of this occuring in the past as well as today. There are also writings explaining how and why the private provision of everything is economically superior to government coercion. Of course, if you're like most people, you've never spent as little as five minutes reading anything that seriously considers the possibility of a stateless society. The reason for this is that you assume government is good and necessary and consider this unfounded assumption to be absolutely and unquestionably true. You cannot do that and simultaneously claim to be a reasonable person.
      • thumb
        Dec 22 2011: The second part of what you said is a crime against rationality. First it ignores the fact that there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to achieve something with the least possible effort (that's what laziness means). In fact this is one of the very reasons for human progress. Secondly, you do not take into account how clever people are and that learning things is a natural part of life (I'm pretty sure you weren't forced by a government official, or by anyone else, to learn to walk, talk do thousands of other things). Also, do you think people did not invent and improve anything in the tens of thousands of years before there was public education? And anyone who claims that human beings are naturally bad in any way should remember that governments are merely groups of humans.
  • thumb
    Dec 12 2011: Education is strongly tied to a structured and systematic way of learning because that is how propaganda is most efficiently distributed. If you accept the premise, after John Ralston Saul, that governments exist to support the dominant class in a society, then you will see how governments use the state-managed tax-funded public education system in the United States and elsewhere to promote their message.

    Elected school boards impose their political will on the unsuspecting and unprotected student body by selecting the textbooks to reflect their views on how the society should be constructed. At its worst this is nothing short of propagandizing the youth by denying them truth. Recall last year’s controversy in Texas.
    Quote – New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html :
    “Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change
    By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
    Published: March 12, 2010
    AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

    The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.
    The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks.”
    And
    “There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted at the meetings, .. “

    If you control the curriculum and the content of the textbooks, the system of assessment, and the salaries of the teachers, and then make attendance at a public school mandatory, you control the education of the nation’s youth.
    Of course, the children of the wealthy don’t have to attend public school to be propagandized, they can attend the pedagogues of their own choice.
  • thumb
    Dec 2 2011: i believe it is tied so strongly because it is used as a controllling tacti. If u eliminate free thinking u create that which u can control. True education was lost in translation as far as collective history, and now that "history" of mankind is being summerized in a 300+ textbook its no wonder it is systematic. Im sure weve all heard "if u dont know your history u are bound to repeat it" well with a 300+ textbook written through mixed facts and opinions u start to see the structure that is being designed for our children. unlike other styles of teachings that have to do with free expression from when u r a child such as music, physical education, art, writting, and science; which is taught, but u get that freedom of thought. FOr example: freestyle creativity, parkcore, gymnastics, fighting, pottery, sculpure, painting, songwriting, poetry, novels, short stories, astronomy, electronics, designing mechanical driven components.
  • thumb
    Dec 1 2011: Every single pedagogue is a unique system of approaches and styles.
    We should think of education as a structure more open to the needs of the students and facing the new challenges which developmental advancements offer.
    REnovation is what every school should praise in order to survive and be competitive on the market of education ... otherwise some other institution will take its place (Internet, seminars, workshops etc.). The process is effective as of nowadays in Bulgaria so I believe it's been going on for quite a while so far. And as I see it schools have no choice: they have to catch up with the rest of the world or just die out as an evaluating and educating tool.
  • thumb
    Dec 1 2011: Dogmatism. 'Woof woof' said the headmaster. His bark was stronger than his bite.

    But seriously, with the absorption of new technology, especially the internet by kids. School children could, in fact, be more knowledgeable on how to learn and absorb new concepts & apply them to this information era than their teachers!

    In education, hopefully we'll see progressive change for the better. We'll see...
    • Dec 5 2011: So TRUE!!! I'll tell you a quick story......When my daughter was in 2nd grade learning about the human heart, she asked the teacher if children's hearts were smaller than adult hearts. The reply: "Our hearts are all the same size"......She came home and asked me the same question, and I said, well what do you think? She answered, "Well I think ours is smaller". We went on-line and got to the truth of the matter. Later on when the class had to choose a part of the body to do a report, my daughter chose the heart. And very discreetly corrected the teacher through the illustrations and explanations in her litttle flip-book.

      That wasn't so long ago.....The teacher had 6 computers in the class, and a smartboard, and was computer savvy, but she chose to answer the question quickly and to top it off provided misinformation. That was the beginning of my starting to see that teachers sometimes are just workers......sometimes they are there because of the benefits, other times they like kids. BUT......true educators must love knowledge, understanding, and the imparting of such to others. My daughter's best teacher has been, I hate to say it, me. I motivate her to dig deep for answers, and not to take my word or anybody elses' for that matter.

      While kids today might be more knowledgeable about technology, true knowledge and understanding of anything requires study and meditation, even if you're getting your information on-line. Like my daughter likes to say: "Mom, you have to think about your thinking".

      Education continues to get worse and worse.....at least at the elementary and secondary level. That is why so many parents have started to homeschool, and tailor learning to their child's needs. Technology has fascilitated this. Thank you for your perspective.

      I loved the quote you started with Adam.
  • thumb
    Nov 29 2011: When I was in college a professor told us, "If you graduate from here and think you've been educated, we have failed; if you graduate and keep learning, we have succeeded." His words simply reinforced my preexisting bent: to continue learning, reading, exploring, etc. At times I've had humans show me things; at others people explain things; at times I've learned by trying and succeeding; at times I've learned by trying and failing; and books, magazines, and video have opened countless doors to new 'halls of wonders'.

    Does any of this have 'value'? Well, I don't have a clue.

    My son recently made a funny comment (he's doing fine financially and has a great family and a job he likes). "I used to be pretty good at drawing when I was in junior high school and high school because I'd spend class just doing that and kinda listening enough to get good grades... but when I went to college I had to start really listening and taking notes, so my drawing went to hell." I have no clue whether my son's college education saved him from a life of poverty as a failed graphic designer or computer graphics tech .... or whether his high school experience saved him from my fate: drawing little stick people for my grandkids instead of realistic dinosaurs..... Jury's still out.
  • thumb
    Nov 29 2011: Inquiry-based and experiential learning, learning that addresses different learning styles, project-based learning, role-playing, use of stations, Montessori, Waldorf... have all been around a long time. Could you clarify what you mean when you say "schools are only beginning to experiment with different styles of education?"
  • Dec 26 2011: i think, it is because EDUCATION=SYSTEM, DISCIPLINE. Off course yes, depends how you make it more creative. If you visualize the same thing what you are trying to educate the pupil, it will have more impact on them.
    Also if you relate with the day to day examples its worth learning. Here you dont have to be much systematic or organized, things will work properly.
  • thumb
    Dec 25 2011: Schools are not where the bulk of learning takes place. It is where our indoctrination to our culture and our history takes place.Most of the important lessons we learn from interactions/experiences outside of school.

    If formal (school) education is going to play a larger role in our learning, it is going to have to free itself from the bricks and mortar of the classroom and facilitate learning in the real world. Technology and innovation will allow this to happen over the next 10-20 years.
  • thumb
    Dec 24 2011: If we are to solve our nations educational problems, we must think of education not as a "system" but as an Individual process.

    "Systems" are responsive only to large units (hundreds, thousands, millions of students.) "Systems" are less responsive and accountable to units of one (as in individual students.) Education is inherently an INDIVIDUAL process. We must create education institutions that serve the needs of individuals not systems.
  • Dec 24 2011: Personally, I found structured education to be the most abhorrent and belittling experience in my life. To punish mistakes as flaws in a persons comprehension of knowledge instead of acknowledging them as a part of the learning process only serves to make children really not give a rats! It's only purpose is to condition you for a life in a society where you have the privilege of obeying authority without question and subjecting yourself to the repetition of day to day life where routine is "god". I've endeavored to unlearn all the conditioning that it instilled in me and am enjoying a much higher quality of life for it. I've learned 100 times more through independent studies and reading after school than I ever did during. Everybody learns differently and schools teach one way for one purpose, obey.
  • Dec 22 2011: The idea is so strongly tied to structured and systematic way of learning because change is hard especially when there has been no change for at least 100 years. The education system has taken learning away from the community and family and made it someone else's responsibility, a "professional's job". This system also includes age and sex segregation, mandatory curriculum, institutionalized environment and a governing body who is the sole decision maker.
    People all over the world are breaking away from formalized, institutionalized schooling and are not looking back. There are many 2nd and 3rd generations of home schooled children who are embracing a new way of learning, or rather old way of learning. Alternative democratic schools are springing up all over the world.
    A child before school age masters an amazing amount of knowledge and skills, when they don't go to school this just continues. If their mentors promote this change and do not imitate a system they do not want their children attending then usually learning becomes self directed. A self directed child is a sight to behold. The question shouldn't be "do other teaching styles have equal value" - why do we think we have to input and "teach" children stacks of information we think they need? When left to themselves in a world and family where knowledge and learning is a pleasure and highly desired without pressure but just a way of life,children can't help but learn; they demand knowledge, they question, listen, and seek out the answers and then we are teaching and they are teaching.
  • thumb
    Dec 21 2011: Français:
    Le temps où l'éducation s'impose davantage, notre école n’éduque pas sous plusieurs prétextes , y compris la liberté. Au nom de cette liberté excessive, non comprise, mal pratiquée, les écoles démissionnent.
    L’apprentissage est l'acquisition de savoir-faire, c'est-à-dire le processus d’acquisition de pratiques, de connaissances, compétences, d'attitudes ou de valeurs culturelles, par l'observation, l'imitation, l'essai, la répétition, la présentation.
    L'apprentissage est plus fort en sens et pratique. Il exige une évaluation de maitrise de compétences et bien sur l'attente du résultat.
    L'apprentissage ne se pratique que pour les groupes restreints et jamais à l'amphithéatre ( centaines ou milliers de participants).
    L'apprentissage est pratiqué dans la formation professionnelle, formation continue en entreprise et certaines écoles d'élite.
    Les formateurs ont-ils toutes les compétences nécessaires pour mieux pratiquer l'apprentissage,à savoir:

    English:
    The time when more education is needed, our school does not educate in various pretexts, including freedom. On behalf of the excessive freedom, not understood, poorly performed, schools resign.
    Learning is the acquisition of know-how, that is to say, the process of acquiring practical knowledge, skills, attitudes and cultural values, through observation, imitation, the test, repeat the presentation. He opposed, while supplementing, education whose aim is primarily the acquisition of knowledge or knowledge through studies, exercises and knowledge checks.
    Learning is stronger in meaning and practice. It requires an assessment of mastery of skills and of course pending the outcome.
    Learning does practice for small groups and not to the amphitheater (hundreds or thousands of participants).
    Learning is practiced in training, training in business and some elite schools.
    The trainers have all the skills needed to better practice learning, namely:
    - Psycho-Pedagogy - Andragogy- Projet management...
  • Dec 21 2011: The old boss has only one viewpoint, and he does not want ours. "Structured" means constricted & restricted. "Systematic" means rote learning & predictable thought. Yes, real learning is complex & intertwined, and that does not make it "efficient." (I believe this is why the "rise" in intelligience test scores; they're simply a quotient of that constriction, or "specialization." It's a measure of the total mental leeway we give & feel. It works in & around our-&-their intercommunications / words / phrases. We all either feel free to use loosely-defined words & honor subjectivity, or we constrict our language/thought/knowledge/selves.)

    Or it merely shows what we value, (cheap / efficient schools & submissive students), or that we value other things more, (giant glistening football stadiums / more t.v. time / war & profit). Who really pulls the strings to get these values valued & implimented? (I think the multitude of people do, for a short while longer, [but they don't really know they do].)

    The 'centered' shield of the "education" paradigm [for lack of a thesaurus] is that a "balanced" child/education is to be achieved by centripetal force; tightly constrained to logically delineated *objective* data - and spun-about without the friction of reality by teachers who never show an ounce of personal passion or relevance-of-subject matter.

    If schools are going to continue teaching in the same manner, I think it should at least be said, in school & at home, that not everyone learns best in those ways, and that some students will have to take it upon themselves to find the ways that work best for them, & then *to learn* the best they can.

    Too many people grow up just assuming that school is A: compulsory, (& that they're *trapped* there), &/or B: that that's their universe. And C: too many of them think that it all, (their-self included), is not worth a hoot.
  • Dec 20 2011: Greetings,

    I think Sir Ken Robinson said it well when he pointed out that our educational system was origionally formulated during the 18th and 19th centuries, and lay uipon two clutural intitutions of the time, Industrialization, and the enlightenment. I might reccomend his excellent and entertaining talk on the subject here...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

    As to schools being used as platforms for propaganda and indoctrination. I think, as propaganda only reached it's flowering of an applied method during the 1930's when Freud's nephew Edward L. Bernays combined psycoanalysis with advertising, I would say it takes advantage of a preexisting educational institution. Did you know that the vast majority of child pycology has been funded by advertising corporations?

    As to indoctrination, Laytola, founder of the Jesuits once said, "...you give me a boy, I will make of him the man." So, that was several hundred years ago, and I thinnk still holds true.

    Regards
  • thumb
    Dec 18 2011: We can only manage what we can measure. Large scale educational system as to be managed. Unfortunatly, most other form of learning are dependant to the motivation of teachers in school. Fortunatly, we learn in every moment we live.
  • Dec 12 2011: There are a couple things going on within this question and within the way that people have commented on it. First with the idea of 'structured and systematic' we have the philosophy that education is impressionistic. One can simply relay the knowledge or information to another person and it is then 'known' or 'learned'. A differing philosophy speaks of what is called constructivism. Where individuals and groups build knowledge together. Both of these philosophies of education hold value and at times fault.

    Impressionist styles of teaching unfortunately are too structured and do not allow enough room for exploration of what we know and how we know. On the other hand constructivist styles of teaching can often leave things too wide open. Tangents are accepted but only loosely tied to what was brought to light before. A truly excellent pedagogue will understand the need for a negotiation between structure and improvisation. If the plan for the class is structured with a central idea and the dependancy of the students to bring new knowledge so that they might build how they know what they know, then the class may be more likely to succeed. These are my thoughts on the negotiation of impressionist styles of teaching and constructivist styles of teaching.

    The other thing that I see happening in this conversation is people speaking of hegemony in a roundabout way. People saying that the 'system' is meant to create and control the individuals and values that are seen as prominent and important to what is needed. I feel this has an unfortunately bleak look at the possibility that exists within education. Any economic or government 'system' will hold qualities like this. What I suggest is that something is created similarly to my ideas on how to educate. Provide structure with the what of education but allow freedom for individual school districts to make their own strategies on how they go about reaching those goals.

    I only offer my thoughts as a pre-service teacher.
  • Dec 11 2011: A few things come to mind. Originally, education was at home as the USA was a very young country and it spread towards the west and beyond. For the convenience of some people it did migrate to a schoolhouse with only one room. Further convenience it expanded to a number of rooms based on the "grade" or age. Education and learning as we know today is so often seen as something that takes place in a school building or classrooms the basic learning is still at home or at least in other places besides the classroom.

    Since classroom system we see more often today has raised a generation of many that can't see the value of learning in another style or in any other way. Many experiences we might has during our entire lifetime is still full of learning and is still mental capital if nothing else. Add to that, many people have different styles of learning and benefit more from a hands-on approach rather than just in a book. This is so often seen in a system where a "master" might take on an "apprentice" or more commonly seen as training on the job or internships. That is something quite similar to what learning or even job skills were taught a very long time ago.

    Sadly enough, too many do not place enough value on what can be learned outside of a classroom to give them credit or offer a job without a piece of paper that shows a sign of good sense or knowledge. In a classroom environment, there are hardly enough teachers/student ration that the students can learn what they should learn and the still most important things will still be taught outside of the classroom....values, discipline, life skills, more. There are too many interruptions or influences in a classroom that can be more problematic rather than be a good learning environment unless the wrong things are being learned.

    I could carry on about some of the things I've already brought up in response to the question and go on a tangent if I go on long enough. Thanks for "listening".
  • thumb
    Dec 10 2011: Public education systems offer a broad target for criticism, but criticism is a lot easier to offer than reform is to implement.

    The most significant reason I see for a highly structured and inflexible education system is sheer logistics. How else may education be openly offered to *all* citizens of a country from childhood through adulthood on a limited budget? Private schools have offered a variety of customized, individualized, and differentiated instructional programs for many years, but this obviously works only for those who can afford it.

    Compounding this problem is the fact that excellent teaching requires a very unique and hard-to-find skill set: one that generally finds more lucrative compensation in industry than in public service. Finding and securing the necessary talent in sufficient quantity will always be a daunting challenge.
  • Dec 9 2011: Other styles obviously have equal value if not more, but society has always had a need to structure everything in order to keep us, Man, in check. The norm, the mass, will always need structed education in order to continue to produce what society needs to subsist, now unfortunately this structed enviroment will slow down those few who will actually come to achieve something meaningful in the world.
    Other styles of education also demand a special kind of teacher and we all know how hard it is to find such a soul.
  • Dec 6 2011: Some people will disagree with me here, but thats what having an opinion is about no? In my experience, education, in general, focus' solely on producing one type of individual throughout society. Obviously, free thinking educated people would not soak most of the crap we, programmed sheep, seem to just put behind us and think, "ehh, doesn't effect me or my family, so it doesn't really matter right?" While slowly our freedoms are being taken away from us one by one. There is an obvious inherent skepticism over "alternative" education. Most people who do get educated at say, a Montessori school will be not as conforming and less "brain washed" so to speak, as those of us who are caught in the "normal" education system. This is a whole lot of talking with no real evidence to back it up but experience and obviousness. There are powers that be that would not like us to actually want to change this very self destructive, psychopathic journey that our current decision makers are taking us on. If you're reading this thinking, "ahh, this guys a bit of a conspiracy nut, better stop reading this now", I dare you to think deeply within yourself, within your experiences and tell me, and everyone else that this isn't true, that our current education system is great and taking us on the right path.
    /end rant
  • Dec 5 2011: Education as mass production of workers for an industrial society requires a system of specific objectives and steps to reach those objectives. The educational systems are pretty good at this process. Unfortunately, the system takes a bright creative, curious 5 year old and transforms them into a 10 year old that is only concerned with the “right answer”. But can you imagine the chaos of a classroom that allows the child’s native curiosity to drive learning?

    There are curricula that address creativity and curiosity and meet learning objectives. The current versions of these are often engineering based STEM activities. Some of these are very good at meeting learning objectives in ways that are more natural for students. That being said, I am an educator that is seriously considering not subjecting my son to systematic education.
  • Dec 2 2011: Hi Zeke! Yes they do. when the focus is on thinking rather than yes or no, right or wrong and measured facts then education has far greater value. Providing open-ended questions offers an opportunity for open-ended investigation and thought. 'Hate something, change something, make something better.' with this philosophy imagine what you could do? in a country such as yours or mine we are so very lucky. there is no excuse for blaming government systems or structures. we have the opportunity to have ago and make something new. Imagination is more important than knowledge (einstein) We have changed our school so that the children focus on enquiry, creativity and thinking about their thinking, as they put it. we have found that the discussions on thinking take them to places in their thoughts that we would never have accessed before in more traditional lessons. Assessment of understanding is swifter, observation and appraisal of intelligence types is enabled. children are aware of their thinking and learning and how they acquire skills and develop intelligences. we consider their education has improved because to understand how we think and learn and relate, how we solve problems and deal with difficulties are skills for the whole of ones life, anywhere. the core subjects are not neglected, they are approached in an exciting, innovative way. We are a creative school - i dont mean we specialise in or prioritise art, drama, music etc, for example, at the moment i am encouraging 5, 6, 7 year olds to explore different ways of understanding concepts of mathematics, logic, and strategy through creativity. Children that may traditionally be in a group of 'lower attainers' are showing themselves to be high order thinkers - imagine what they would appear to be if only assessed by a test on paper?
  • Dec 2 2011: structured and systematic learning comes, it seems to me, directly from control systems that have little to do with the learning capabilities of any student, at any age.
  • Dec 2 2011: Watch this video. It is what got me to start thinking about the topic. www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.html
  • Dec 2 2011: You should take a look at Daniel Willingham's book "Why Don't Students Like School?" as a take off point to answering your first question. I struggle with the assumption that systemics necessarily dictate teacher style. As part of a system, I get that the teacher is expected to perform certain duties and functions, and style plays a part in keeping information transfer interesting, but so too does being well organized and planning ahead. I guess I'm saying that method of presentation (teaching style-instructional delivery) and method of organization (curriculum design-planned learning/pedagogical outcomes) seem discrete to me, while pushing them together as concurrent questions here makes it appear as though they are more overlapping. As far as I can tell, you can use a style that keeps people thinking without ignoring the benefits of organizing and ordering the knowledge is ways that help the learner in their sense-making efforts.
  • Nov 29 2011: I am a Montessori teacher and I agree that school nowadays need to realise that traditional methods of education are antiquated since they were designed to prepare children for a world that no longer exists. The significant leap in terms of technology, media and communications that has taken place in the present digital era requires a workforce of people that have been educated to think creatively, use their initiative, to be critical problem solvers and generally think outside the box. We no longer live in a world that should place value on standardisation and uniformity but instead should place value on uniqueness and creativity since it is the children who come from this kind of education who will be responsible for solving the problems of tomorrow. Montessori recognized what she called "an education for peace" in the 1800's, why it has taken the rest of the world 100 years to catch up is beyond my understanding but at least the worlds education systems are starting to wake up and realise a need for a change.
    Gone are the days of rote learning and memorization, dictation and repetition. Moulding such minds is of no use to the planet and the problems humanity are going to face in the future. It's about time governments all over the world take a page out of a Montessori manual and start implementing a new educational philosophy aimed at creating cooperation instead of competition.