The Catch-22 of Education
Admittedly, while even "funeral" has "fun" in it, "studying" can offer little more than "student" and "dying". Endless drooling lessons,...
Admittedly, while even "funeral" has "fun" in it, "studying" can offer little more than "student" and "dying". Endless drooling lessons, monotone voices of (most, if not all) teachers attempting fruitlessly to carve into the heads of 40 students or so useless facts ("How do I manage taxes?" Scream a desperate college first-year, scarred for life by the responsibility shoved onto her by society. "The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell." Replied the biology teacher, oblivious to the screams of agony radiating from students already in so much debt), and countless other all-too-familiar issues resulted in many, especially students, raising a very reasonable concern:
"What the hell is the point of learning all this?"
It is obvious to anyone with even a shred of intelligence that the current education curriculum is simply not working the way it should. Inherited from the Industrial Revolutions, the model of stuffing people into a crowded space for compulsory lecturing and punishment for resistance and underperformance in examinations matches the description of brainwashing and spreading propaganda more than enlightening naive minds with knowledge and wisdom. Thus, one may proclaim that such a system should be abolished and replaced with more innovative ones. Having said that, surprisingly few people actually understand the reasons behind the current education model's manifestation - its origin, its effectiveness in the Good Old Days, and why is it a failure in the Information Era - that is, the Nowadays. Not acquiring a thorough understanding of it, how can one ensures that the new and renovated education model does not make the same critical mistakes the current one is making? Furthermore, without acquiring deep scientific knowledge about the curriculum that they're trapped in, how will student cope with all the trauma that comes with it? Just pray to anything, anything, as long as they pass this exam, just this exam, and repeat "Everything will be okay" quotes on the Internet?
I. A Brief History Of Learning-kind
1. From the caves
Homo Sapiens had started acquiring knowledge millenias before school materialized. Our ancestors had learned the most basic survival skills from close-minded chimpanzees, hunting in groups, identifying edible mushrooms, starting a fire, etc. If we were to consider such skills "lessons", then the "examination" was natural selection: those who passed were given a chance to pass their genetic material to their offspring; those who failed were brutally and mercilessly eliminated, either by starvation, poisoning or killed by a wild animal or more simply, left behind by the tribe. The school of life taught the first Homo Sapiens not only how to ensure their safety and health in the wild, but also sharpened their social skills, creating bonds between members, for a better chance of producing more superior descendants. Coincidentally, the very same lesson of weaving connections between other members, and eventually other tribes and groups, laid the foundation for imaginary stories - an essential ingredient in the recipe of world domination, applied even to this day. In this phrase, education was relatively successful (of course, with deadly casualties), with the evidence being that Homo Sapiens pulled through the test of natural selection, while our other close relatives - The Neanderthals, for instance - perished.
2. To the ploughing fields
Entering the Agriculture Revolution. In this period, children had taken on a more "professional" approach to education. That is, they took after the occupation of their father and mother, and maybe of their tight-knitted community. Working in the fields grinding corn, or sitting before a table shaping a milk vase, children learned both from experiencing the job (Child labour at the time was commonplace), and from lessons taught directly by their parents, who had years of experience in the profession and the wisdom of their parents, who had years in the profession and the wisdom of their parents, who- carry on. At this phrase, while diverse, on a small scale and often lacking universal truth, education fulfilled its role of guidance for a child to becoming a functioning member of society. Of course, not everyone were destined to becoming farmers or locksmiths. Some children, born to royalty, learned more abstract subjects such as art and poetry, and were educated to become a sophisticated person in critical thinking and planning, but such subjects were often limited to children with a high blood status. Not that anyone other than them needed such skills to fulfill their occupations - the wheats don't care about your latest poems, but they do care about your latest bucket filled with water.
3. And in the factories
The Industrial Revolution gave birth to a number of stunning inventions and an even larger number of horrible nightmares. In the Industrial Ages, the education curriculum (which is still present in teaching facilities to this day) could be considered satisfactory. A scarcity of knowledge and endless need for educated people that are *just* intelligent enough to pay taxes and work in factories 15 hours a day and receive a monthly salary not enough to not die of starvation manifested in an education model where information relating to subjects such as Mathematics, Biology, History and numerous others were crammed into children't head to ensure that they know a bit of everything. "Jack of all trades, master of none, better than a master of one", they said. And just as well, because at the times, being able to acquire knowledge about such abstract areas was revolutionary comparing to the past, where wisdom was mostly chants from priests or so-called "witches" with little objective truth in them.
Alas, time has changed, and so should the education model. But no.
II. Everything wrong with the current education curriculum in 60 seconds
-Knowledge is no longer a scarcity. Quite the opposite, in fact - with a mobile phone coupled with a decent Internet connection, you can spend several lifetimes watching all TED talk videos and reading Wikipedia articles. You can also swim in the endless resources and materials offered by the Internet, some reliable, some rubbish, and you have almost no idea which is which.
-It is evident, therefore, that the last thing schools should do is offering any more knowledge (not that they even remotely succeed in doing so - most lessons are forgotten as soon as they are no longer needed for exams). When a person is about to drown, noone in their right mind worries that that person is dehydrated. Similarly, the focus of school and education curriculum as a whole should shift away from spreading knowledge - if I can just Google "physics" and get more information than I'll ever need in a lifetime, why bother going to school only to get even more?
-Thus, schools should be less like a path-maker, and more like a guidance counsellor - that is, more flexible and adaptive to the needs of students. Right now, that need is an accurate and scientific method of filtering information, to discover the objective truth, not the need for more information (least of all outdated and sometimes even twisted information, as so commonly seen in History lessons).
-In this day and age, the ability to seek the truth behind a plethora of lies is more crucial than ever. Pretending to be oblivious, even the most dim-witted of teachers can sense the coming of an enormous change in the society, a turning point in history itself. Artificial intelligence, Big Data analysis coupled with accelerating advances in decoding the human brain shall very soon give humanity complete control over its own desire, maybe even consciousness, meaning that psychological manipulation will only become more common and not less threatening. More than ever, those living in such significant times must acquire and perfect the ability to 'know thyself". The alternative is to be controlled. Imagine Facebook knowing your exact feelings after a break-up and decides between an ad for tissue (to weep), and an ad for a dating service (to forget). So far, schools had done close to nothing in the ways of such matters, leaving countless graduates paranoid about their identity and thus prone to more manipulation.
-The cherry on top of that is not only do schools fail dismally to meet students' needs, such education model also brings forward endless problems. Bullying is the most evident; unhealthy competitiveness, sexual assaults; emotion manipulation; clinical depression and suicidal thoughts (and sometimes even actions) follow suit. No education method is perfect, I agree, but such arguments does not justify the problems caused by the current one.
So yes, the current education system is best annihilated. There's just one problem: Currently, no other means of education is more successful at equipping students with the necessary tools and knowledge needed for adulthood, and those which did succeed only achieved such milestones on a relatively small scale. To sum up, while it sucks (obviously), the current education curriculum is not going anywhere, anytime soon. And refusing to participate in it won't result in anything better. This is the Catch-22 of education: If you don't participate in it, you fall behind, but even if you do, you don't move much forward.
"But then, what must I, a student, do? Nothing?"
III. A silver lining, a ray of hope
Not exactly nothing. The first step is realise the complexity and intricacy of the whole situation, which I hope that by reading this article, you have. If you are feeling anxious and disorientated, frankly that's a reassuring sign that you're going in the right direction. Better to be knowledgeably anxious, than blissfully ignorant. The second is, put simply:
Said times and times again in both historical records and Shakespearean plays, never before had this sentence become so crucial, so essential to follow. With the current advances in technology and with the current education failing tragically to keep up, it is upon you to connect to your body, to teach yourself to be more adaptive and flexible to contradicting opinions and yet retain for yourself the fundamental principles of objective truth. It appears impossible, or at least, much more difficult than watching cat videos on YouTube, scrolling through the Facebook Feed, or even study at school; but right again, noone said it would be easy, and that's why most didn't even bother to try. And the current education curriculum doesn't help that one bit. But humanity is running out of time, for real this time, and if a new education module is not devised and applied soon, then the students are the one to suffer from, because by then it will already be too late to "know thyself". All and all, with no signs of a new reform of education in the foreseeable future, the task of guiding students to discovering their identity and preserve it, what should be the sole responsibility of schools-
is now in the students' hands.
Either that, or you can become really intelligent and propose a new method of education that actually fixes the current problems instead of worsening them. You do you.
*This article is my personal opinion, skillfully combined with the arguments presented by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari in his book, 21 lessons for the 21st century.
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