There are many issues with the way we do schooling. We’ve unthinkingly continued a system established during the colonial era. Designed to create homogenous widgets for the big machine.
There’s no reason we should lump children together based on their ages, or allow them to progress before they’ve achieved mastery. It’s not optimal for them, nor is it for us. It didn’t make sense then, and makes even less sense in a world that so rewards difference and creative thinking.
I’ve just started reading Beyond the Hole in the Wall by Sugata Mitra. It’s the story of his fascinating experiments with self-organised and minimally invasive learning, made famous by his placing computers in Indian slums.
Mitra champions the idea of setting children free educationally, allowing them to experiment, seek out what interests them, and teach themselves and each other along the way. He’s had phenomenal success.
Early in his account, he offers this beautiful critique of the current system:
“human beings generally consider knowledge to be irrelevant unless it “does something” for them. Much of what’s wrong with formal education lies in the fact that students don’t perceive how the knowledge they are getting will, in any way, change their state.”
I know this is how I felt throughout high school. It wasn’t until I made it to university that I discovered education could be about more than test preparation. That it is something to enjoy for its own sake. That it can empower besides.
We have a system that doesn’t make sense. And we don’t even do a good job of selling it.