Today I read an article about flaws that exist in our education system in the U.S. The article, which I obviously don’t own and didn’t write, talks about why the way we teach students is so messed up. Basically it states that kids are fed information just so they can spit it back out on a test and then forget it shortly thereafter. This flaw in our educational system is so obvious to me now that it has been pointed out by this article. Students are never asked to challenge their beliefs and really learn from others instead of a textbook. Growing up, this is exactly what I experienced in my k-12 education. I was always the type of student to learn the information just in time for a test and then forget it the second it no longer had value to me. I really only started questioning the knowledge when I was old enough to understand that their are things beyond my understanding (and that is okay).
Honestly like what does a student really learn by this “rinse-and-repeat” method. The only thing they learn by doing that is that the better you are at cramming, the better off you will be in school and in the long-run life. This fact is not true! So many talented people sucked at school because they were smart enough to question the information they were given. Why are students who don’t succeed in a “traditional” education environment viewed as dumber than those who do? The fact-of-the-matter is students are brainwashed from kindergarten to believe there is a right and wrong in everything. This concept of absolutes leads to the arguing and tension I was talking about in yesterdays post. The anger between opposing views is groomed from such young age because children learn that kids who think differently than them are wrong and won’t succeed.
Freire, the author of the article, proposes an alternative to this. He suggests that students should be placed in a learning environment that facilitates discussion and curiosity. This idea of a discussion based curriculum is such good idea. Not only will it encourage kids to express their own views, it will also teach kids that their isn’t a right or wrong to everything in life. Even though I was one of the “smart kids” who was able to succeed in school. I still feel like I would have benefited from this type of learning. Knowing that my peers have knowledge that I may not have and that we all contribute something unique to the conversation is such an important lesson that so many schools are failing to teach.
Now in high school we did have teachers who “tried” to facilitate these open-ended discussions. By try I mean they sat us down in a circle and forced us to talk about a book we were currently reading in class. They were called “Fish Bowls.” The name is appropriate because the students were treated like fish in a tank. These discussions are not what I am talking about. All these discussions consisted of were kids looking to say exactly what the teacher wanted them to in order to earn points for participating in the discussion. None of this talk was raw, unfiltered conversation. No one learned anything from each other, we all just wanted to get it over with as fast as possible.
If I were a teacher, the discussion start with me posing a difficult question to the students like, “Should our school offer trans-gender restrooms?” and then, for the rest of class I would let them talk, free from judgement. As a teacher, all I would do was make sure no one got too upset and that the discussion remained on topic. The teachers job would be to listen and learn along with the students.
I just cannot get over how backwards our current education system is. I really am just upset that I had never realized this major flaw that existed and it took me 18 years to find out I was cheated out of a true learning environment. Oh well better late than never.
The more and more I progress thorough college, I am starting to realize that the world we live in is super messed up. Even in America, “The greatest Country on Earth,” so much is wrong with what we do. And even worse, we have no good reason for doing these things (like education) the wrong way, but we continue to do them the wrong way. I just hope people will start to realize these flaws as I have sooner rather than later.