Higher-Learning

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The education system is well known for its many flaws – students fail and drop out left and right, even those why try their hardest are not guaranteed success. For years people have analyzed these problems and looked for a solution, to no avail. In a situation like this there must be someone to blame – is it the teachers, parents, students? Is the government to blame? Perhaps the blame is the world’s outlook on education in general. After centuries of educating in one fashion, it is hard for someone to suggest overhauling the whole idea of education – it is much easier to take small steps and attempt to fix a long broken system.

Every human is born with an innate thirst to learn. Infants and toddlers crave knowledge of anything and everything – crawling, climbing, touching, tasting, observing everything around them in an attempt to consume their world. When a child grows old enough to talk, their curiosity flourishes even more; with the new ability to ask questions the flood gates are opened to the world’s answers. Parents and teachers are bombarded with constant questions from their young – “why?” after “why?” is asked to the point where adults grow tired and begin to give a simple “because” out of annoyance or because they feel that they’re too drained to deal with the questions. This is the world’s first and foremost failure. The first time a youth’s quest for answers is denied or ignored it is no big deal – life goes on – they ask again later; however, after two times; three times, ten, twenty times – by the time a child enters first, second, the third grade – their once natural wish to learn has been stomped on by the very people claiming to support education to the point of endangering the child’s entire life.

You may pray a dog with a bottle of water every time they do wrong. You might hit the dog or deny them a treat – this is how to train them to stop doing something deemed “bad”. After a few failed attempts out of the yard, the electric collar will convince the dog the journey beyond set bounds is not an option – he will give up.. The sad truth is this same technique is practiced on almost every person in the world to stop the very curiosity necessary to fuel the human brain. Nobody should hate school. A place of learning is a child’s first dream, but by the time they get there that dream is washed away and replaced with a melancholy discontent that lasts for twelve years – assuming the person passes every grade and graduates; sadly, this is the case less and less.

How can this all be undone? What is the ideal scenario for education? Honestly, nothing like what exists now, not even in the slightest. The first step is to never let a question go unanswered – if you don’t know the answer, fine someone who does. Look it up. Don’t let the quest for knowledge die. Secondly, school needs to be rethought completely – there is so much taught, so much repeated that is simply a waste – years worth. Consequently there is very much that should be taught that isn’t. The question might be raised whether a child would be better off at home for a few years, just living – learning about the world and its ways. Elementary school teachers the same four subjects the same way for five years, and they are barely elaborated on in middle school. Even in high school the same basic lessons are reviewed before an extended education begins – all grades earned before high school do not even count. Records are erased. Why? Most children leave school with countless lessons they will never need grudgingly burned into their brain when they cannot even perform the simple tasks it takes to be a productive citizen.

What is being proposed then? Something crazy for sure – something insane, at least, by the standards of those who have long forgotten to learn. People must put their faith whole heartedly in a child’s mind and wish for them to learn. If you left a child home until they were fourteen – if parents simply taught them how to read and write, basic math, and then allow them to flourish, what would happen? Maybe a disaster, but maybe something unexpected, amazing. If a child is allowed to learn the world; if all their questions are answered, and their yearning to learn never halted – what may they become? Could they handle something at the level of high school after that kind of life? They could enter unprepared and overwhelmed, but maybe instead they will enter with a passion to learn and an excitement no other student has ever had. A true education is one someone wants, enjoys, and thoroughly loses themselves in. Is the world ready for possibilities such as this? Probably not, but small steps can be taken – hope place in the future – maybe there is a young child questioning the world right now, with a smile on their face.





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halvy said...
Mar. 25, 2010 at 7:12 pm
"A true education is one someone wants, enjoys, and thoroughly loses themselves in." - completely agree. having been raised in a very non-traditional, experiential, and hands on environment, i confidently believe one of the greatest passions one can obtain is the incessant drive to learn. sometimes i feel that the educational system in our country is robotic, pounding it into peoples' heads that the definition of success, for all, is the same. good grades, good college, high pay... (more »)
 
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