The last time I posted to this blog, I opined that I believed it was time for us to rethink the purpose of education. More than two years later, I am more convinced than ever that premise is true.
From my view, the modern education system is a weird chimera of the classical notion of creating a well-rounded person by versing them in most or all of what was known at the time and the industrial notion of creating a class of workers with an interchangeable skill set. While there are arguments for both of those notions, the extremes to which we have taken them in the last few decades has left an education system that is broken and rotting from within.
I believe the fundamental purpose of modern education should be to equip every learner to be able to understand, use, and manipulate the vast store of information freely available to anyone who wants to access it. What that kind of education will look like will be different for every person based on their unique strengths and weaknesses.
As a result, I also believe the notion of massed group education by age and grade is also obsolete and needs to be replaced by a system that focuses on developing a student’s strengths and buttressing their weaknesses.
Yes, that means, in order to do what I am suggesting, we would have to replace vast swaths of the education system as we know it. Likely, that would mean reimagining teachers as managers for students who are, to a great degree, educating themselves with guidance. It would mean focusing the money part of education on developing coherent guidance for each student. It would mean dismantling the mass industrial model in favor of a focused individualized one.
Further, this new model would have to focus on all the things currently lacking from the industrial model. It would get kids outside as much as possible. It would emphasize physical and emotional development as much as it would academic and social development. It would focus on making students lifelong learners and thinkers over making them complaint workers.
I understand this is a pipe dream in the current climate, but the radical reform of education in some form is almost inevitable. If we start thinking about it now, maybe when the time comes, we’ll be able to make something good happen.