These summer days, I’ve been thinking lots about the role education plays in the “success” of a society, culture, country.
I don’t mean the usual view of “success” as employment, wealth or even having one’s basic needs met. I define success as the creation of as many as possible free, well adjusted, aware, alive, emotionally stable individuals ….. for that is the role of education and its ultimate purpose – the creation of a valued citizen.
And that is really why I don’t see schools, face to face teaching going away any time soon despite all the prognostication that school as we know it is ending during this time of COVID 19. It isn’t and we still need it. Not that students can’t learn without it, they can. Digitally, at home, independently, in micro-groups. However, we need school as a cultural institution, a safe place for kids, a place for mentorship, relationships, social “tuning” so to speak. A place to “grow up”.
I’ve written previously on this topic regarding our classrooms and how we might assess their “success” if we judge them on how we might judge a country that we want to live in (read it here). But let’s just think for a second how we might judge the country and society we live in based on its schools and classrooms. For at bottom, education is the soil that grows this same tree.
At the same time though – let’s remember that “education” isn’t the same thing as learning, as Seth Godin relates.
Here are a few questions on which to base the analysis. If you get many “No”s – you might really be concerned about what kind of country is being created. Fearful of the future.
1. Safety. Are schools safe for children and students? Do students really want and look forward to going to school?
2. Freedom. Does the curriculum allow students a wide amount of discovery, adventure in learning, critical thought and expression?
3. Individual Rights. Do schools promote the value of each and every student and avoid leveling and streaming and labeling?
4. Funding. Are schools and the educational system funded appropriately and at a level that values their primacy within society?
5. Values. Do schools engender the value of learning for learning’s sake and prepare students to keep learning lifelong or are they only to prepare students for jobs and offer certificates and grades?
Just 5 quickly written thoughts. I could write commentary on these points but I think anyone reading will get the drift. In most countries – the answer to these questions is “No” and we should be concerned for our future, our children’s future. It’s that serious and there is that much on the line.
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