Rethinking Education: Structured Learning
In the 20th century a new philosophy was introduced. The philosophy was existentialism. Existentialism is pertaining to human existence, and finding our ideal self along with the meaning of life through free will. The idea of this philosophy is that humans are searching for who they are and what they will become by the choices they make based on their experiences without the complications of laws, traditions, or ethnic rules. This idea of free will is sometimes misconstrued as a hindering factor in reference to the education system. Our foundation is put in place at an early age; this is our fundamental axis, and this reasoning is acceptable because of our commitment and trust in conditioning ourselves. For the sake of difference in opinion, and considering the learning differential, people who use a different side of their brain than a peer have a chance of excelling in their studies of specific subjects; however, this does not apply in all cases. One factor is assumptions made regarding social structure. And this is what happens when something is driven by an economic imperative. This has made education a taxable commodity, but not one for a universal benefit. The reason for that has to do with the socioeconomic status of certain communities. After evaluating the overall financial gross of a community an institute can become established. From this point on we can put people into two classes: academic and non-academic.
Past views on education have declined in accuracy and authoritative action. Many students do not believe that an education will help them progress as suitable, responsible, formidable adults. Our current system was designed and conceived for a different age and era. This system was formed by the intellectual culture of the enlightenment. Financially, our current system was developed during the industrial revolution. Before the 19th Century there was not a system for public education. We have grown up in a system of public education which is dominated by two ideas. One of them is a conception of economic utility and you can illustrate that directly. It is implicit in the structure of the school curriculum. Many ideas which seem obvious turn out not to be true. That was really the great adventure of the Enlightenment; ideas that seemed obvious that turned out not to be true. Ironically though I believe the legacy of the Enlightenment is now hampering the reforms that are needed in education.
In America, along with other countries such as Britain, we put our kids into high school and it is recognizable, the curriculum is totally recognizable. Maths, Science, and English Language at the top; then the Humanities and the Arts way down the bottom and in the Arts there is always another hierarchy, Art and Music are always thought to be more important than Drama and Dance. There isn’t a school in the country that I know of, sorry, a school system, let me be clear- “There isn’t a school system actually anywhere that teaches Dance every day, systematically, to every child in the way that we require them to learn Mathematics. Now I am not against Mathematics. On the contrary, but why is Dance such a loser in the system? Well I think one of the reasons is, people never saw any economic point in it. So there is an economic judgment that is made in the structure of the school curriculum. I am sure it was true of you, you probably found yourself benignly steered away from things you were good at school, towards things that other people advised you would be more useful to you.”
An article, by Sir Ken Robinson, states the same convictions as above. Sir Robinson is quoted saying, “So effectively, our school curricula are based on the premise that there are two sorts of subject; useful ones and useless ones. The useless ones fall away eventually and they fall away especially when money starts to become tight, as it always is.” (Changing Paradigms| 316)
His view-point is about the business aspect of our educational institution. We have devised an order of subjects that are seen as more important than others. That is why there are constant debates and rallies for the arts. How some do not see the arts as viable subjects, others completely disagree. I myself agree with the arts playing a big part of a child and adolescent’s academic endeavors.
There are two reasons for this inconsistent debate. The first of them is economic. People are trying to work out, how we educate our children to take their place in the economies of the 21st century given that we can’t anticipate what the economy will look like at the end of next week, as the recent turmoil is demonstrating. How do we do that? The second though is cultural. Every country on earth is trying to figure out how we educate our children so that they have a sense of cultural identity and so that we can pass on the cultural genes of our communities while being part of the process of globalization.
Essentially, what I am asking is if it is possible to keep diversity in our education while preparing a universal curriculum. With our technological age growing more rapidly every day, are will able to keep up with this progress with an outdated education system? When questions such as that are asked, it becomes very easy for higher powers to justify inaction by claiming the proposed questions as too vague or broad. In all actuality the questions are quite simple; the problem is finding the foundation to start upon.
“Technology: Develop a network of electronic and print media to provide information that will improve the management of schools and instruction in the classroom. School funding: After consultation with statewide agencies, the alliance will seek to clarify the fiscal options available and suggest, from its independent and comprehensive perspective, a set of proposals for adequate and equitable school funding.” (Chicago Tribune. 1) This was taken from an article titled, A New Boost For Education Reform. In this article possible solutions, or better yet, a transitional period is proposed. It is too early to tell how our structured system can be reworked. But that doesn’t mean we should throw aside any suggestions, even ones with little merit in the beginning. To structure our learning, we must learn how to structure it. We have to evolve it. We must adapt.
With all of this said, and after reading many sources, I have come to the conclusion that too much critical thinking is killing the educational paradigm. The structure and agenda of our schooling systems is killing creativity and exiling some students. Academically challenged students have a better chance of achieving a predetermined level of success. That is said with mild sarcasm, wit, and a touch of contempt. Our system is business oriented and in serious need of restructure. Until that time comes, there will continue to be many misplaced and confused students. Some students will be on the verge of an existential crisis, while others continue to fill in the blanks, or in their case, filling in the bubbles of their standardized tests.