Do you feel like schools could be doing a better job at preparing our children for the future??
Today, I wanted to write about five things that I feel are crucial but yet missing in our children’s every day education. I know some of us feel like we were short changed when it comes to school, like it was more of an obstacle than a motivator to fulfill our dreams and desires.
First things first…How did our educational system come about? How did we reach a point where in the U.S., some high schools have a dropout of over 60%, clearly showing students are just not interested in learning anymore? At least not the traditional way that is.
We have built an educational system where schools compete against each other and then groups compete against each other and finally, students compete against each other. This system of competition, which is also based on a very specific hierarchy of subjects, where math is given top priority and then you have writing, reading and then at the end of that pyramid you have arts and humanities and other subjects like that. It’s also a very standardized way of teaching. The end result, there’s a lot of Education going on and children spend hours upon hours upon hours at school. In other words, they’re being educated but they’re just not learning anything like Sir Ken Robinson says. Now, teachers in the US are also seriously underpaid and the job is not like the best job that you could have in the planet, but actually quite the opposite comparing to other countries that actually treat their teachers with high respect and they give them a lot more authority like Finland.
I’ll come back to Finland at the end, but for now, how did we get here? Well, it comes from a background of compliance and a background of trying to diminish children’s potential like John Taylor Gatto says. He was a famous teacher in New York and he was given many awards and he basically wrote that children were being trained to become good Egyptians as he within the pyramid. He also mentions in his books that children only have about nine hours at most of free time to do whatever they want and they have very little privacy so in the end you get a very standard obedient class of individuals who doesn’t question too much, etc.
THE PRUSSIAN EMPIRE AND EDUCATION
This whole concept is not a recent concept and it came primarily from times when the Prussian Empire was at its peak and they needed an obedient class of soldiers and that would go and fight against invaders and other countries. Carry this concept into the industrial revolution where you get bells, straight rows and a very specific system in place with the purpose of diminishing, rather than enhancing, human potential. This specific system was focused on obedience and focused on specific mechanical jobs and this is why you have that hierarchy of subjects and this is why some subjects are not even taught at school level.
5 SUBJECTS YOU SHOULD HAVE LEARNED TO MAXIMIZE YOUR POTENTIAL
What are those five things that I feel are missing? Well, the first one is definitively creativity. Of course I’d say that because I’m a musician and I love creative people, but I don’t think that that’s a trait that is particular to one individual or group of individuals. I actually believe like Sir Ken Robinson does that all children are naturally artists that love learning and exploring. They simply come with that chip right out of the box! I feel this natural creativity is educated out of us through the learning process that happens at schools so instead of enhancing and allowing them to to explore and create, and to do things outside the box the system actually pushes you into a “standard and correct” way to do things.
2. MISTAKES ARE OK!
This brings me to my next point, which is that we’re being taught that mistakes are terrible and you should avoid them at all cost. But isn’t this how we have evolved for so many years? Aristotle was wrong about a great deal of things and so we’re all the natural philosophers in our history. We learn about things as more information becomes available and this is what makes progress possible. Eventually, as a species we have learned from those mistakes and we have corrected and perfected the concepts and perfected the theories that we have and we need to keep pushing forward in that direction so mistakes are a necessary step towards learning. You’re gonna be wrong and the same way you write a song that’s no good and keep perfecting your craft until you write a good one, you also need to approach mistakes in anything you do as part of your learning curve. This is the same for anything from physics to math or everything in between. The school system is all about grades and this is why they grade us like vegetables or meat. This grading system pushes you into the concept of “I can’t be wrong”, or “I’ll be right at any cost”…and it carries on to the to the workplace even because you can’t be wrong because companies will fire you right? Fortunately, grades do not determine a person’s success, so it’s time to stop giving it so much weight. This whole concept is not necessarily pushing Humanity in the right direction.
3. FINANCIAL FREEDOM
The third area I believe is missing in our schools is financial freedom. Children are simply not being taught on life changing financial habits like living within your means, spending less than you earn, budgeting, saving for big expenses, saving for emergencies, etc. And going even further than that, how to invest in real estate, financial instruments like bonds, stocks, etc. This lack of knowledge delivers people that are in debt probably forever and have no savings and just end up being average consumers. There’s a very big difference in mentality between being a consumer and being an investor or entrepreneur. For example, if you buy an iPhone you are simply a consumer and money is just going out of your pocket and into the corporation. But if instead, you buy Apple’s stock you’re now an investor, which gives you tax benefits and in the long run dividends. You could also invest in some real estate and rent it or remodel it to resell it. These are just some ideas of how to create more money than you’re spending and retire financially free of debt. I really wish the children received more of this knowledge early on in their lives.
4. SUPER LEARNING AND CRITICAL THINKING
The fourth point that I wish children were taught was super learning and critical thinking. By super learning, what I mean is, schools are a place where you learn a bunch of stuff but you never learn HOW to learn that stuff, so that you remember better, can read faster and recall the information at will. There is no such thing as bad memory. There is only untrained memory and trained memory and most of us come out of school untrained. Wouldn’t this give you an amazing advantage regardless of what you chose in your profession? Sadly, what happens most of the time and that happened to me when I was younger is I used to study for the test and then after I did the test I had no idea what I just answered. Sound familiar? This is why, early on they should teach us how to learn and how to research so you can make better decisions. If you missed out on this knowledge I encourage you to check out udemy with some inexpensive courses, or if budget is not an objection, Jim Kwik also has trainings on this subject.
As far as critical thinking, it is just the ability to analyze what you’re reading or absorbing and being able to reach your own unbiased conclusions based on your own research. Coming up with your own decisions and conclusions is not very common as in schools you are taught that you are supposed to answer either A, B or C, and you shouldn’t really question outside that knowledge. When circus elephants were young, they used to tie their leg to one pole. There comes a point when of course the elephant is strong enough to break free, but it does not do so because it believes it can’t. The same way, if you put it inside people’s head for a long enough period of time that the truth is being taught and they shouldn’t question it as it will be discouraged, they will just stop questioning and take the institution’s word for it, which is not a good thing. Mankind has advanced thanks to questioning, analyzing information and coming up with different solutions to the problems we face. This is truly one of our biggest gifts.
5. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND COMMUNICATION
The fifth and definitely not the least important point that I really wish children were being prepared on today was emotional intelligence and communication. Isn’t that a necessary training for all of us? What I mean by emotional intelligence, is basically the ability to understand other people’s feelings, needs, etc., and to be able to communicate with them in a way that benefits both of you, both or all parties involved. When you learn how to train your brain to stop being overwhelmed, observe and reflect instead of react, you are truly geared for success! Children are not being trained on crucial trainings involving consciousness, mindfulness and meditation. I think early on, it’s important to train children and help them develop more of their prefrontal cortex activity and less of the amygdala activity or lizard brain which really does not make good decisions for us. Very few schools that i’ve found use meditation instead of detention, and mindfulness training to complement their education. Instead, schools remain focused on children learning to add and subtract as well as read and write, despite the fact that, like John Taylor Gatto said, you could teach in a few hundred hours.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
These are the five things that we’ve covered and are missing on education today and the question remains, what can we do about it? These are some of the tips that I can give you and that I feel will eventually turn the tide in our favor as parents.
1. FIND FUN ACTIVITIES AND LEARN TOGETHER
There’s so much fun games that you can play from financial games, mindfulness games, etc. There are so many things that you can find now on amazon, ebay and on the internet. You can learn about this topics with them and become wiser together!
2. GET INVOLVED IN THEIR EDUCATION
Regardless of whether you’re homeschooling, taking them to private school or public school, just take a few minutes every day to see what they’re learning and how you can help wake up the learning Giants so they can help us design a better tomorrow.
3. STOP OBSESSING OVER GRADES
Grades have never determined someone’s success. In fact children who seem overly obsessed about grades actually have more “average” lives. In other words, they don’t invent anything, they don’t do remarkable things, etc. So it’s time to ask more often, is this child learning? And, how can I help him or her learn the concepts he/she needs to succeed in life.
4. REDUCE OR ELIMINATE SCREEN TIME
Of course i’m not a fan of TV, video games, etc. Your brain simply goes into alpha wave activity, which means that you are absorbing what you’re watching, all the violence, and bad habits, which means that you’re more likely to engage in similar behavior. So I feel it’s crucial to limit children’s exposure to these devices.
5. LEARN FROM FINLAND
Look into Finland. This very small country in Scandinavia seems to have a brilliant plan to keep children engaged and learning. In fact, they have for many years now outperformed pretty much the rest of the world when it comes to education. And this is for the subjects that we have tested. So we don’t even know on the other subjects how they do because it’s not being tested. It’s common for Finland to come ahead in everything from math to science. How do they do this? In general they promote collaboration instead of competition so the schools don’t really compete with each other the students don’t really compete with each other they actually collaborate in the education of their young. Formal training doesn’t really start until children are more developed and before that they actually allow them to play a lot. They also have a lot bigger breaks so that children are able to socialize and play for a while and then go back to learning. That is working really well for them of course as being a teacher in Finland is really a privilege the way that it should be around the rest of the world because children are responsible for our future. What better job is there to do than nurture them from an early age? Of course, they have more focus on creativity and in general their curriculums are actually designed by the teachers not by politicians or the school. That makes a lot of sense to me. Children will obviously be more interested in topics they want to learn, so teachers provide learning experiences around that.
I hope this has been helpful and I would like you to share this with a parent, a teacher, a grandparent or anyone who’s involved in children’s education today and remember to Like share comment below. And, if it is within your heart I also have a patreon page and if you’d like to see more posts like this one you can contribute starting as low as one dollar. Thank you so much and I’ll catch you on the next one.
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Do schools kill creativity? by Sir Ken Robinson