School sucks, yo! Or, does it?
“School is boring, it’s pointless, we never learn anything relevant” is a common phrase that you’ll hear on the street, on the bus, or in queue at the grocery store. Although pedagogical styles vary from class to class, for the most part our school systems remain quite traditional: teachers read from a book, you copy and regurgitate for a grade, that’s certainly no fun. For students who are stuck in the middle, relevance is a reasonable concern.
Student’s are right to wonder about the relevance of school subjects to life outside of school. The relevance of today’s education to the real world is a bit more complex than discerning between various types of triangles or memorizing the periodic table. To understand the problem and conceptualize solutions, we must step back a bit and consider what’s this whole thing all about? Ken Robinson addresses this briefly in his talk on Changing Education Paradigms.
For the harsh critics out there: Consider that it’s not all bad.
Today schooling is a beautiful privilege accessible to students all around the world! Universal education, at least up to grade 8 is available for youth from Moldova to Uganda, but until very recently, this has not been the case. The purpose of education is noble at its core: to reduce poverty, inform citizens, ensure autonomous thinking, and ultimately achieve a peaceful world.
It took centuries for this vision to become a reality. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights called on governments to provide education to all children worldwide. In 1990 the Global Education Conference symbolized a renewed commitment of governments to expanding access to education. In 2000 universal primary education became one of the the eight Millennium Development Goals. Today 99% of kids in the developed world (98% in the developing world) have access to first grade. 90% of students in the developed world go on to get 11 years of schooling and in the developed world, 98% of children will spend 16.4 years in school.
Only a few decades ago schooling was exclusive and inaccessible for most of the world’s children.
Today youth has access to education, and you must agree, that is beautiful! So, as you sit in the classroom today or maybe as you talk to a student, consider the greater purpose of this whole thing and think about the impact that education has made on your life.