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.
A New Goal for Our Education System
We need to get on the same page, and that page needs to read differently than it does currently. I spend some time in the article “What’s the Point of School” talking about the current goal of our education system and all of the many reasons why it is harmful to students. I also feel that if we keep trying to make reform happen while chasing the same old goal all we will do is tread water. We need a new goal and we need to get everyone headed in the same direction. That is why I often refer to my work as education transformation rather than ed reform.
So, what could a new goal look like?
The Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Children
In Sir Ken Robinson’s book, "Creative Schools," he points out that we should and could be helping students to manage their inner world and relate to their outer world. I would take that one step further and add that we can also help them to find their place in the world. But what does all of that mean?
Help students to manage their inner world:
Help students relate to their outer world:
Help students to find their place in the world:
With this prompt from Sir Robinson along with the guidance of Dr. Roger Walsh’s Eight Ways to Wellbeing I formulated the Five Happy Healthy Elements:
Emotional Health & Positive Relationships, Physical Health & Nutrition,
Community Involvement & Effective Altruism, and
Exploration of Interests & Play.
All of my articles prior to this have detailed these elements by defining them and including research showing why these elements are of great importance to the wellbeing of individuals' current and future lives.
By making these elements a priority in addition to restructuring the classroom though various methods including teaching through interests and shifting the role of the educator we will make the greatest impact on the lives of young people. If we can accomplish this then we will decrease violence, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and how many individuals are incarcerated. We will create a more positive society by increasing tolerance & kindness, participation in civil duties, and economic growth.
You might say “Well, all of this is great, but what do we do about it now?” And you’re right. A complete transformation of the system will take a long time. But, right now, parents are worried about their kids who are stressing about standardized tests 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?
I’m glad you asked. That’s exactly I address in part two of this article.
See you there!