Friday, February 7, 2014

What Exactly do we Learn at School

“There were no sex classes. No friendship classes. No classes on how to navigate a bureaucracy, build an organization, raise money, create a database, buy a house, love a child, spot a scam, talk someone out of suicide, or figure out what was important to me. Not knowing how to do these things is what messes people up in life, not whether they know algebra or can analyze literature.”

– William Upski Wimsatt

This quote by Wimsatt highlights a problem with today's schooling system - a lack of relevancy to life and living. People can do 12 years of education and still be unequipped to cope with independent living. Why is this? It appears to be caused by the professionals slicing out something for themselves from every day life while making children and young adults dependent on them and their tests, grading and diplomas.

Education should be about learning, not teaching. How is it that our children can learn their first language without any formal teaching? Children experiment, interact with others and learn naturally and spontaneously. Compare this with the foreign language instruction within our schools and universities. Some people come out of college with a degree in a foreign language and still can't speak the new language fluently and idiomatically. The academic approach is not the best fit to learn a new language. Compare this with young children who move to a new country with their parents. They pick up the new language by interacting with their peers. Children below the age of five who have not been stifled by traditional schooling are not afraid of making mistakes. FACT - you can not become fluent in another language without making many mistakes. Yet schools reward those who make the least mistakes with the best grades.

It has taken me a lifetime of formal education to realise how I have been cheated and robbed of real learning. I am rectifying this now at the advanced age of 58.


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