Monday, January 31, 2011

Schooling vs. Education

            What does schooling do for the average child? The “correct” answer is that it opens up opportunities for children concerning what they will do with their lives. Another obvious, more specific answer is that it teaches them life-skills like math, science, English, and many more. But what if these “right” answers are actually wrong? What if schooling actually gets in the way of a child’s education?
            I was speaking to one of my friends a few days ago, and we were talking about reading. He made the comment that few people read these days; in fact, he said, he couldn’t think of many people who read more than he or I did. I answered that my reading level drops drastically when I am at college since all that I have time for is my textbooks. My friend cited this as an example of where my schooling was getting in the way of my education.
            At first this statement seemed preposterous to me. After all, school is designed to educate me, isn’t it? From kindergarten until entrance into the workforce, we are taught mathematics, English, science, and a whole myriad of subjects that are very useful to us in life. On further examination of my friend’s statement; however, I began to understand what he was saying. While schooling does teach many skills that are useful when applied, standard schooling techniques rarely apply these skills to real situations. Free time to read materials other than text books as well as time to investigate topics learned in school in the real world is where real education takes place, and overloading a student with school assignments often stunts this education.
            Another problem with schooling techniques today deals with the fact that they segregate subjects into separate categories. Mathematics is taught in one class, Physics in another, English in a third, and history in a fourth. While some of these segregations are appropriate, the separation of many of these subjects results in an inability to use them together as is often necessary in real life.
            A third problem that I was able to identify with current education methods is the complete absence of some skills that are vital to our lives. Skills like self-reliance, self-motivation, initiative, and leadership are all but ignored because of the difficulty involved in teaching them. These skills are just as important if not more so to the success of a person as mathematics and science are simply because without self-reliance and initiative, a person will not be able to effectively use the others.
            Even if the schooling system that we currently have is not the best, what other options do we have? I would personally recommend a method of education that is nothing like the one that we have in place now. First and foremost, I would remove education from the control of the government because practically everything that the government touches withers and dies. In the education system, this can be seen by a peak in American graduations (around 77% of students) well before the formation of the department of education. This percentage has been decreasing ever since. A second change that I would enact is to not make formal education mandatory. The reason for this is because not everyone learns most effectively in a classroom. In addition to this, it has also been shown that even those people who do well in a classroom do not necessarily fare well in the workplace. Obviously the education of an internship in a workplace would address this problem. Finally, I would encourage a form of education that emphasizes not only math and science but also important skills like leadership and self-motivation.
            The problem with the American Education system is that it has been centralized. Since it deals with so many people, it is not flexible and consequently unable to address each person’s individual needs. (This fact can be seen by comparing standardized public education with flexible private education) Because of this, it sometimes gets in the way of students education. Therefore, it is necessary to reconsider the whole of the education system and decide whether it is a good and helpful program or one that needs to be retired.

Thank you for taking time to read my blog. Any input or feedback that you have will be appreciated.

Peter Last

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