Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Traditional Schooling: What Is it Good For?

For those of us who had an adequate experience in a public traditional school, we might think “it didn’t seem so bad, it did the job for me.” Well, what is the job of the traditional educational process? You got your diploma, maybe a college degree, and hopefully a job. Could it have been better? Would you want more for the future of our children?
Here are a few video clips I mashed together. I think each bring up good points about traditional schooling.

After doing some reading and research about the original purpose and goals of schooling, I see a couple that are still way too powerful in today’s schools.
1.  Conformity: There is still an initiative to make all students alike. Unfortunately I think many teachers fulfill this unknowingly (me included). Too often I have robbed students of having a choice and have at times told them what to think and insisted the best way of doing things.
2.  The Selective Function (Darwin’s natural selection): Students are closely compared and judged. Are we basing our assessments on how the individual student is developing or are we blinded by how they compare to others? Do we look at the whole student’s broad range of intelligences and abilities or are we narrowly focusing in on their ability to take multiple choice tests?

Some teachers still believe that they hold all the information the students need to know for the year and it is there job to simply transfer it to them. This practice usually leads to every student learning a preset, universal curriculum, all the same way. In this classroom, would you be engaged, inspired, reaching your full potential? This is an absurd way of teaching in today's informational technology age with complete connectedness. 
It’s like telling an ambitious fisherman that he is only allowed to fish in a small stocked pond while the ocean is 100 yards away. Don’t get me wrong; there are some foundational skills the fisherman should learn at the pond before taking on the ocean. Even when given access to the abundant waters, there is still a need for guidance, support, and encouragement regardless how skilled the student is.  

I think this final quote sums up the traditional approach quite well. Seth Godin cautions modern leaders with this: “Trying to lead everyone will result in leading no one in particular.” Most public schools are achieving this, leaving students disconnected, disengaged, lost, and at-risk.
There IS a way for EVERY individual to be passionate about their learning with a curiosity to inquire, determination to discover, and an eagerness to apply! Traditional education is not it.