Just 5 examples of the negative side effects of the current education system. I call them side effects because education is supposed to be a positive “treatment”, a positive drug. Sometimes though, it is not.
- Since day 1 we are taught to separate the different one, the one that stands out. Our brain learns from the age of 5 to separate the different shape, different looking animal or child or plant or item because of its colour or shape. From the age of 5 we are taught that if we manage to find and separate and keep aside the different one, the odd one we are successful, we are doing well. I personally see a direct relation to issues that relate to any form of discrimination that we experience nowadays, like racism, homophobia, religious non-tolerance and clashes etc etc.
- We are rewarded by numbers, through our grading system, which exists in most of our schools and universities. We are taught that the higher the number, the better students, the more worth we have. This number is later on transferred to the salary we receive and the size of our bank account savings, the number of our cars, houses etc etc. We are taught that our worth is defined by a number. How does that influence our being?
- We are taught to trust whatever we read in a schoolbook. In the movie “Waiting for Superman”, a must watch for any educator, it is mentioned: if you want to change what is taught in Schools, what future generations will learn, then go to the people that decide what will be the content of the School textbooks. Indeed. Schoolbooks serve the state, which usually serves a political agenda. I say usually, cause naturally not all countries work in this way. But, especially subjects like history, religion, literature and more, in my view follow a specific agenda. And in a regular situation, this may make some sense; this would be according to a national strategic agenda that would aim in developing key characteristics and competencies to its children and generations to come. A good example is Rwanda, after the genocide, when the Ministry of Education focused in developing the feeling/competency of community, union and national pride to its children. So, what is the point here: no matter what, school textbooks will follow an agenda. Critical thinking and diverse sources of learning should be a priority for educators to provide so that learners are kept mentally and spiritually awake and aware.
- We are taught to put people in boxes. The best, the mediocre and the bad student. The smart, the smartest, the stupid, the slow in running, the best in sports, the best in the class, in the school, the prettiest, the most handsome. The girls are like this and the boys are like that. These boxes help us to know how to deal with them and treat them in similar ways. And then, when we grow older we need to learn from scratch, because we were totally wrong, we leave an education system that has not taught us how to create meaningful relationships based on the beauty and power of the diversity that comes from each one of us.
- We are taught that failure should be avoided in all ways. Heroes are always successful and the reason that one would fail would be either because of stupidity or because in some cases (yes, I have seen that, too) of not being religious enough or because he/she comes from another country. We are taught that failure is always a step back, as failing a class means you miss one more year, you are separated from your friends and are “stamped” for life. We learn that failure is because we are incompetent, stupid, did not follow the rules or did something that was too different, too innovative. Yeap, that is exactly how life is to be lived and experienced, by playing it safe…
I enjoy, love and feel inspired by all the innovation that has shaken education over the past years, which undoubtedly have addressed some serious issues like democratization of education, reach, innovation in approach etc . Which one of these innovations though have faced and managed to stop the above side effects? The answer is yours.