Monday, September 15, 2014

Educate Me Plenty

As mentioned in the previous post, my schedule started getting denser not so long ago. Two weeks prior today, I also graduated with a bachelor's degree. The whole unnecessary ceremony crowned the two-year struggle with my research paper, which was inspired by the increasing problems in education at large. Although it dealt with an issue into which I invest a lot of interest, the thesis in itself was just a mandatory proof of my capabilities stuck in a frame of demands. In this entry, I am to approach the question of schooling reform devoid of wanting to live up to any expectations, except perhaps those of having a sensible proposal in mind.

A few things have to be cleared first. My theoretical proposition is more of an outline to a whole system that cannot and shouldn't be developed by one or just a few individuals. To make it work, many other powerful political structures also have to be rearranged if we desire to survive our own advancement, and such an effort takes time more than anything. Our society succumbed to the depths it is in now throughout known history and we cannot possibly expect to arise from here in just a few years. Huge changes can require generations. I will also avoid criticizing the current system, as it is simple to point fingers at what we dislike around us. There is a fair amount of debate on the subject to be found on the internet, so I would rather write about a concept I see in my mind.

Education actually begins on a pre-school level. The most effective way to help (future) parents get the most out of Their role is to teach Them how to do it as right as possible. There are playful activities which benefit brain development and strategies that promote healthy lifestyles and provide open-mindedness. For me, it is a mistake not to grant these advantages to kids.

From the very start of someone's formal education, cooperation between parents and institutional personnel should be open and assertive. Bringing up each child in a different manner, in accordance to Their and the wishes of Their ancestors, can bring greater diversity in personalities and how They approach the challenges of life. Everyone has different interests and wishes, which dynamically change and evolve throughout life. Why not help them seek out Their specific fascinations right off? Some youngsters might show signs of special talents being formed, but They might not be too keen to invest any effort into expanding them. Sometimes talents need a bit of unforced push. I am convinced that most of the people will be thankful for it later in life. Adults can recognize when such stimulation is necessary and give a confidence boost to children to help them value Their capabilities properly.

The necessary individual work might demand a lot of professional investment, but not everyone should be a teacher. I find the teaching vocation to be one of the most important. Remember, educators are professionals who guide the minds of people, which is a task with the highest order of responsibility. Choosing teaching as a profession should not be taken lightly. A system that truly cares about its educational values will put teachers under examination before giving out or prolonging a license. This doesn't mean complete control over professional investment, rather a verification whether a proper approach to teaching is present. The creative method of each educator should still exist – that's the whole magic of being a good mentor, who is a role model above all.

mindborn of education and reproduction baby fetus in skull.
Human procreation is beyond being merely biological: our thoughts literally shape forthcoming lives.

What I liked most so far during my own education was the facultative type of classes. Let's take that style a bit further. Imagine not having grades to work for anymore, but only for the knowledge itself. Imagine not having classes set for specific ages, but different sets of classes arranged by ascending difficulty levels. Instead of compulsory attendance, everyone can audit at will. Exams are open for every level, without attempt limit, and are either passed or not. Forget about training people to be "cashiers" or "bankers". Having access to knowledge for different competencies can enable people to build Their own profile for life. The useless diplomas hanging on walls could be replaced for a little card which holds all the acquired proficiencies. Schools should be a wise mediator that helps people become what They would like to become. The issue of inclusion and special education would be eased as well, although special care is always welcome, not just in the case of people with particular needs.

Statistics, among many other things, allow us to foresee occupations required in the future (through an assemblage of practices called employment projection). It would be useful making a kind of public portal where people could actually combine Their wishes with needs of our society (if They want). This idea might be useless if human workforce becomes completely redundant, but that's a story for another time. We miss many important and specific courses today, like practical empathy, healthy social relations, parenthood, diligence in personal space, finance management, resistance to hostile persuasion, conscientious drug use, etc... There is so much more knowledge out there that doesn't deal with what we have to give to others, but which has to do with ourselves. By taking care of ourselves, we benefit all around us. Wouldn't it be great if we could make the saying "all people are stupid" superseded? Because all it really takes is a bit of sensitivity to how other people resonate. If we all did that, the word "tolerance" would have a different connotation.

As I mentioned, a profound change like what I'm describing here would also involve the reform of other areas of human activity. There are people who are perfectly fine with doing the same job for the most of Their lives, but there are also those who get mad after repeating the same routine for too long. What if by default workplaces simply existed unoccupied, and we could join any of them at will? For example, someone could go to work in an office for two months, then take a break for a week before going for a two-week crop harvesting session. The empty office would wait for the next person who wishes to work there. The jobs with the highest demand for labor could bring the highest pay, thus ensuring that there is no deficiency in the necessary areas.

Let's not sway away too far into speculative political territory. The bottom line, at least for me, is that education should be free with an open access philosophy. There is no need to make experts in certain fields (unless individuals want to be experts by themselves), but rather make capable citizens who can form teams consisting of people with skills relevant to the task to be done. This approach is slowly becoming a reality with all the online course offers. There are certain and potentially complementary ideas about labor force being thrown around, like the four hour work-day or guaranteed income. Another fundamental concept in education is two-way communication. No institution should have the power to know better what's good for individuals than the individuals themselves. What it should do instead, is to offer a successful plan of empowerment for the beneficiaries of its services, all while paying attention to feedback.

Most of our educational systems are so dated, that we can't even realize how much our way of thinking is in need of a modernized outline. One of the most developed abilities we as humans have is adaptation. It is an awesome talent; I'm amazed at how we all willfully resist it. I find that through a more conscious approach in teaching fresh generations, we can create people who are aware of Their natural tendencies and are unprejudiced enough to have a good idea about how to re-mold what it means to be human in a way that can benefit not only our species.

serenity is the best teacher
"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all."
~ Aristotle

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