Sure, the debate about how to create the most successful education system goes on for decades if no longer. Scientists, politicians, teachers and many more have answers of how to shape the system to achieve education of such high quality that motivates students and allows young people to develop for best of their very own future. People work on the curricula, on the educational infrastructure, on teachers’ education, on methods and I guess on much more. But still we complain about the educational system as it is – correct that we do.
Just yesterday I bumped into the Collective Evolution trailer “Finland Education Success” feat. Michael Moore. Sure it’s Michael Moore and thus you have to take not everything as 100% pure truth but still the movie gives an incentive to think education differently – the formal and the non-formal one.
It’s about time
There is the time issue. Getting up pretty early sitting in class before 08.00 am is very usual in German schools. We know from science that by that time of the day we are all not really capable of having a real learning success. Still we go to school early. Moreover we hang around there almost the whole day, if not at school than back home doing tons of homework for the school. As the trailer implies that is not good and not effective. Finland has obviously tried a different approach and has success. The freedom of having enough free time as a young person is very powerful especially in comparison to squeezing kids in an environment where they have to function for almost a whole day with lots of pressure on their shoulders. Probably the brain is not even ready to safe all the content in a sustainable and productive way. How much do you recover from your school days?
What retains us e.g. in Germany to change this from scratch? Why do not start school at 10.00 am? Why the hell just go on with the old habits if we do know better? I guess one of the first reactions would be that there is so many content to cover that the time is needed – that’s why schools have to start early.
Less content is more quality
Unclutter the curricula. There is so much bullshit taught at school nobody needs ever again in life. If you want to become a mathematician, perfect, choose this way and get educated as a mathematician at university. But why do we have to learn all this special subjects of math when we will be a cook, a history teacher or an office manager in our professional life later on? There is no need to know all these things. And there is also no need to learn all these things during our childhood and in the teens. You can organize school that way that pupils have the opportunity to discover new things that they didn’t even know before about. But you do not have to teach every single kid every single detail from all the school subjects available. There is this nice saying that “education is not the filling of a pail, but the lightning of a fire”. Nothing describes it better than this. Let youngster concentrate on the things they enjoy, where they are good at, what the really want and let them develop on this issues to become an expert and to deliver good output.
The digital “revolution”
Having said this both about time and content also the digitalization of education is nothing than the change of methods as long as we stick to the old system with day long education and content that nobody cares about. What is gained by using the internet, technical devices, online collaboration and so on if the rest keeps unchanged? Sure, digital education is closer to the target group, could make even boring content somehow sexy and it offers many opportunities that I support but still if only used in the old framework it’s no more than a magic trick to disguise the real problems of the educational system as a whole.
What is also often quoted is that you do not need to teach content as Google (or the internet) has it all, it’s there you just have to go there and grasp it. Instead education has to focus on the way to get the knowledge, to identify it, to work with it. Thus teachers are more of an educational-methodical escort than an expertise delivering body. I like this approach but it also makes only sense if we give up the basic structure and aims of today schools: a broadband education covering all the knowledge available in a maximum of thirteen school years including stealing too much time from kids for nothing.
Money & more…
If the system is changed accordingly it would unleash tons of resources that can be used. No worries about burned-out teachers, more time to work with the kids instead of having to succeed with all students with all the content, focusing on the real needs instead of giving monotone education to a mass of people, probably also saving lots of money that may be invested efficiently and for the good of the system.
It’s time for an educational rethinking, a revolution, a general change of the system for the better of the education and for the better of the students. That’s called a win-win.
Fantastic five minutes on education now and in the future (in German): “Bildung und Lesch Wie sollte Bildung funktionieren“