Think back to 20 years, or even just 15 years ago. If someone told you that many students would go on to have jobs in social media marketing, would you have understood what that meant or how important a role they would be playing? How do we prepare kids for jobs in a future that we can’t predict? In contemplating this question there are a few things one would need to consider.
Education truly is the key to a better future for the world. But not in it’s current state. There are people and organizations doing wonderful things for education reform right now. Lots of things are happening towards influencing policy makers for change. However, we aren’t all necessarily on the same page. A very similar page perhaps, but not quite the same. Also, when people are so deeply inside a system it can be difficult to think outside the box. For example, let’s say the telephone didn’t change from 100 years ago. Then we ask Apple to apply the same kinds of tools and software of their iPhones to the same piece of hardware from 100 years ago. It would be a challenge and not the best option for our needs. I feel like that is what we are doing with our education system. The classroom has not changed in more than 100 years. We are trying with all our might to make it better, yet we are keeping the same structure for a society, economy, and technologies that don’t apply anymore. On top of all of this you have a system that takes quite a long time to make change. So, what do we do about it? I want to address both of these concerns.
This is a two part article. In this first part we will take a look at how we reimagine a system that truly works for our current society, the longterm. Then, in part two we discuss how to make this happen in a more timely fashion, the short term.
Last week, in part one of this article, we discussed a new goal for our education system, and we envisioned futures if we accomplish it. However, the question remains, “what do we do about it now?” Right now, parents are worried about their kids who are stressing about standardized test starting at age six. And teachers are not even able to do what they got into the profession for in the first place because their hands are tied with standards and regulations. What do we do for the kids who are there now?
“The most damaging phrase in the language is ‘We’ve always done it this way!’” - Grace Hopper
Why do we bother to go to school as children? What's the point of it? In other words, what is the goal of our education system?
There is little argument against education reform. No one would say we shouldn't make things better. However, when a system is relatively unchanged for more than a hundred years it can be very hard to “think outside the box.” There have been lots of changes within the system over the past several decades, but we need to reimagine the structure all together. Cars have drastically changed in the past century, phones are unrecognizable from a hundred hears ago. Yet, the classroom remains relatively the same.
PBS says the purpose of school is to prepare children for citizenship, cultivate a skilled workforce, and allow students to compete in a global marketplace. Consider for a moment if this is truly the goal and if our system is accomplishing this goal. If you were to ask a student today what they perceive the goal to be, would this be their answer? I decided to ask current high school students what they think the purpose of school is. So, I conducted a survey and was shocked at what they had to say. Here are just a few of their responses: