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Flip The System

This essay from Zen Habits is one of those wish-I’d-written-that sort of posts.

Education Needs to be Turned on Its Head is a savage, honest and excellent assessment of what’s wrong the US education system from a non-educator (although, like most of us, some of his closest relatives are teachers).

And the way we’re taught to learn is as receivers of information, non-thinkers. Follow the rules. Read pages 100-132. Do the exercises. Memorize the information. Spit it out in a test. Do this project, because we tell you to, not because it’s fun or interesting.

The way we need to be taught to learn is completely different. It’s this: learn about what interests you, gets you curious, gets you excited. Figure out where to get the information you need. Read about it, talk to someone about it, find out about it. Try it. Do it, make mistakes. Figure out how to correct the mistakes. Figure out how to solve the problems you encounter. Repeat.

He doesn’t have many specific suggestions to fix the problem but his primary idea is in the title of the piece.

So how to prepare our kids for tomorrow? Better people than I have written on this. Look up Unschooling – it’s already been invented, and it’s what I’d recommend.

It’s pretty much just getting out of the way of kids. Let them learn about what they want to learn about, and you know what? They’ll actually care about what they’re learning, because they chose it themselves. They’ll get excited about things, something schools usually fail to achieve.

Flip things around and put the kids in charge? That might be a little too radical a change considering how the current system is so very teacher-centered.

But how about teachers and students sharing control of learning?

Ok, even that prescription for reform would probably be too much for most politicians and education “experts” to accept.

But it’s nice to dream a little.

Go read the whole thing.

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1 Comment

  1. Very nice analsis. Problem is that it is difficult to change a system with so many entrenched interests.

    Although both sides / factions in this debate (about what went wrong with the US education system) are entitled to their positions, I seriously doubt that any one side is fully or primarily responsible for what is occurring here in our society at this point. It’s probably 50/50 or 51/49 at worst. However, I am reasonably sure that continuing to argue and fight about it, without actually addressing the underlying root problems, will not advance anyone’s interests. We should all Try Harder.

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