Education As We Know It: Time to Review, Revise & Upgrade

December 8, 2011


There’s been a great deal of talk lately about the value of education whether at the elementary, secondary or college level. People are starting to wonder whether a college degree is worth the tuition required to earn one. The education system as we know it is no longer working. Some education leaders think a complete overhaul of the entire system is overdue.

According to Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation, the education paradigm needs to be changed ASAP. He sees today’s school-age children and college students as seriously doubting the purpose of education. They are hopeless and disenchanted. And for those considering a college education, many are beginning to question the value of their degree. They don’t feel that a degree offers any guarantees like it did in the past.

Sir Robinson has a point and it is cleverly illustrated in this video which shows that the current system of education was designed for a different time and age. It was conceived during the age of enlightenment, at a time where the concept of compulsory public education funded by taxation was novel and revolutionary. Prior to the 19th century there were no public schools as we know it. Only those from affluent families were able to afford education, albeit through private tutors.

Sir Robinson brings up another point which is that our educational system and even the physical design of its architecture is modeled on the “interest and image of industrialization.” He suggests that by stepping back and taking a look at our schools we can see that they are “designed to run like factory lines, ringing of bells, separate facilities, where we educate children by batches, by age group.” By dividing and isolating the students and judging them separately we are in fact separating them from their “natural learning” environment. Most great learning, according to Sir Robinson “occurs in groups through collaboration.”

He asks a very good question: why do we teach our children by age group? Since children of the same age group respond and perform differently to different subjects. What’s the logic behind this? Is it about conformity and standardization? Is the structure of our current education model compatible with the age of technology? Are we preparing our children with the skills and knowledge necessary to survive in today’s globally-interconnected economy? Are all these standardized tests really necessary? I wonder. What do you think?

The Frustrated Evaluator

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Filed under Education, Innovation

8 responses to “Education As We Know It: Time to Review, Revise & Upgrade

  1. I feel your pain. In short, our education system needs transforming rather than reforming…it needs a whole new look. Another question is, where do we start and SOON. Great post.

    • Veronica Walker

      I understand your frustration and agree, however, as an educator of 28 years and one who have experienced year-round, looping, Outcome Based Education, and a host of other trains that came into the station, I can tell you there is no one answer.

      Have you considered the age factor for social reasons? Do I want 2nd grader John, who reason an eighth grade level in the same room as an either grader? humm…..

    • Veronica Walker

      That is the question. Where do we start the transformation? Are we trying to change too much at one time? Should we simply begin in one spot and move from there?
      I remember when Whole Language reading came into the elementary area, it had its skeptics; however, it took off like wildfire here in Texas.
      Some believed it was successful, yet, some argue that it was a waste of time and threw it out with the baby.

      Do we give anything ample time to adjust to the paradigm shift and become successful?
      Since 1984, we have gone through TABS, TEAMS, TAAS, TAKS, and now STARR test here in Texas.

  2. Ante

    While I agree that the educational system needs transformation, I also agree that there also should be a balance between the social and academic aspects of education. This should not be interpreted to mean that I feel that a child should be held in one grade due to his age, but I do think that a child could relate to those close to their own ages.

    The higher education system needs a total overhaul. I find it interesting that a those that hold certifications and certificates can earn more than those hold a degree. My boss had an interesting opinion on higher education and these non-conforming traditional schools. If you don’t offer flexibility and convenience, you are in for declining enrollments, higher costs and lower revenues.

  3. Ante

    I agree. We have to learn to embrace the generation who is constantly on the move and needs more convenience and accessibility to the world than what is currently being offered. We live in a world where conference calls and webinars are replacing face to face meetings and retreats. Online discussions are being replaced with class lectures and eventually, iPads (tablets) are replacing laptop computers. Lets go and think higher!

  4. You’re so right. It seems that with our rapidly changing world and expectations for immediate response to needs and services, we need to offer programs that train our students to be more hands-on as well as socially & globally aware. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Appreciate all your comments. Be on the look out tomorrow (Thurs 12/15) for a new blog from our guest contributor based in Germany who’ll continue with this thread but from the German education perspective. Let’s keep this conversation alive! Share and re-post this blog. Thanks!

  6. Nancy McNeill

    Technology is all around us, there is no way we are getting away from it. Yet teachers have not progressed, they still teach primarily the way I was taught thirty years ago. Teaching should be on the cutting edge not lagging behind.

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