The Concerns of Today’s Education Model: Imagination!

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To teach, is to learn twice.
Joseph Joubert[i]


 

The concerns of today’s education realities! An Education model that lacks imagination!

If you have joined specialized social networks on education, you likely must have crossed specialists from various disciplines: mainstream and special needs education teachers, care givers and other persons dedicated for the learners’ wellbeing.

There are many ongoing discussions about new technologies, and many topics covering what some like to call a “reinvented education”, a new pedagogy (also known as “modern pedagogy”), after all these people’s efforts are mostly commendable in regards to education.

Concerns and efforts are well addressed and discussed, I sincerely admire these persons who dedicate their thoughts, minds and efforts to this domain. You may ask yourself if such being the case, then where I am getting at. I would like first to reassure readers of my full agreement that maths, grammar, science and writing skills are very important given the many challenges students will have to overcome during their entire life as learners and adult productive citizens.

However we must remember that these essentials are not the only skills students need to learn and become able to make use of all what they learn during their schooling life. Collecting knowledge is not only to memorize information, knowledge consists also in discoveries, comprehension and linking all the elements together as part of one global entity: our world, our universe.

Students need to learn about their local environment, they need to understand about citizenship culture, other people’s history, the traditions of ethnical diversity from other countries, and so much more about the sources of knowledge preparing them to be the real citizens of their own world, and not ours.

We are witnessing great changes into today’s world. Such changes are shaking most of the principles and the foundations of our model we have lived by until now.

The meaning and the true essence of human principles are being rewritten by the few who surprise the rest of the population with a fait accompli about such changes.

These events transpire on the future of education as well, students are asked to spend so much time in books, memorizing, and sitting for tests, instead of also discovering and retaining the result of their observations, their discoveries and what is real life about.

This will result in graduating future employees who will lack the necessary curiosity to go beyond what they are asked to do. The sense of initiative and the spirit of creativity will be seen as well as non-compliant behaviour, that the system in place will correct very rapidly.

I sincerely do not know through what kind of phenomenon it has been decided to push a very simplistic mode of grabbing and retaining information retention (funnily called “modern pedagogy”) rather than collecting and understanding knowledge, the excuses invoked to justify such approaches are the never ending statement “the guarantee of a job!” Ah! Yes! Impressive!

Creating more jobs! Can you believe that? Forgive my sarcasm, as it has never been much of unemployed youth in the so-called industrial and advanced countries than ever.

We see these young graduates who must, once their studies are completed, return to small “odd jobs” until something better happens, such jobs have nothing to do with their field of studies. SO next time you go to a coffee shop or a department store, and notice these young adults not showing a smiling face, you might understand the real reasons of their state of mind.

What comes top off for desolation, some specialists who speak, sometimes too often, about the virtues and benefits driven from new technologies, spread into ravishment at the borderline of mental ecstasy while the essential foundations of education is sorely lacking. Humanism, Social Sciences, a wider grasp and knowledge about other countries, cultures and populations.

Some time ago I expressed comments about how an educational system “treats” children (students) with learning difficulties. How kids must complete certain goals, achieve objectives, follow the one-size fits all model, when he or she fails a couple of times, then the student is simply tagged: “Child with educational special needs!” At that moment the kid is taken into the maze of the processes and never ending evaluations that will disconnect him or her from the feeling of being like other kids, worry the parents and extend such unclear diagnosis that retag the kid once for all: “Special Needs”. What a sad admission of failure! We could agree that not all kids who fail must have a behaviour problem! Sometimes it is about the model and the mind map of the person that does not click!

I know, most likely and probably I have been one of the many, one who has never been tagged as such! Yet I was labeled as “lacking attention> or “must put more efforts in memorizing”. Yet I managed to go through as I had the most important help and support: my own parents who believed I needed to find my own way in learning.

I do not deny that children with learning difficulties do exist and such cases are true realities, however it appears that the actual process tends to classify, sort and convey in a funnel all of who do not answer correctly to expected responses, do not reach and attain results and achievements as defined in that actual model, that is alas the inevitable rate of success.

As late as this morning I was reading several articles on the “famous recipes”, loads of advice, recommendations and tips to follow in order to achieve educational goals successfully!

For the love of life, could we change this sanitized language, which does not say much! Moreover these papers pivoted around the wonders that were attributed to the functionality of a given tablet!

Unfortunately so little was shared (a reminder: this paper was addressed to education specialists) about pedagogy, approaches, how the mentioned device would fit to these educational skills and not the other way.

Sincerely speaking, 7 over 10 papers promote the tool over the learning curve and the benefits kids or learners will get from using a given approach (please let’s call it pedagogy)

Correct me if I am wrong, it was never said that the tablet was at the core of the educational Yet specialists and experts made it the pivot of today’s learning! The core of the model is most likely the core of a bargain deal: “use the tablet so you can pass or succeed” and that looks wrong, very wrong! At least to me!

Specialists are tireless in finding educative values to new technology tools, I would rather expect them to act diligently in the opposite way: find the appropriate tool that fits the educational needs.

The educational model and the teams of experts seem to only promote brands and the gadgets surrounding that come with. Yes these applications are really cool yet how much value is in these for the sake of a good suitable education of our times? How much can we assure today’s clients (kids). We need to stop making these tools look indispensable to their own wellbeing, before they can understand and then decide what is the best tool for their knowledge.

I will never say enough how much of a fully persuaded and convinced user I am on new technologies, I own a couple of amazing tablets, tow e-readers, a very smart phone, I use most of the social networks, medias, clouds, remote printing, video-conferences. All my personal banking and communication activities pass through the net. Be assured I am not close to a cave man at 62 years old!

I have started connecting to the Web in 1994, a years after the first Web site was publicly launched by Tim Berners-Lee, my CompuServe© account number at that time was 3 digits, and my first personal site was created on those not so good looking black on grey background HTML pages! In the middle of the 90’s I contributed to the first e-learning program (e-learning not computer based training using a true portal also known as LMS – Learning Management System), and more activities I could have dreamed of in a life time. Yet my sole and only concern was and remains: people at the core of any educational solution.

If I would summarize my own vision about education: what can be taught with a couple of sheets and pencils and a true blackboard and chalks, can with no doubt be used with tablets and sci-fi equipment. All the true secret about education is focusing on how learner can learn with any tool, else they will always see what others use and keep at the bare minimal level of learning, becoming expert users of tools.

The point we miss today, is considering people’s need to learn how to learn! During all the teaching years I have cared to ensure that learners understand why and how instead of memorize, I used to say that books are useful when the educator is not available, helping learners to discover the thrill of finding new things and come up with an intelligible answer to their own benefit.

We badly need to learn how to learn!

Until our next chat.

© Michel J. B. – 2015


[i] Joseph Joubert, (7 May 1754 in Montignac, Périgord – 4 May 1824 in Paris) was a French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for his Pensées (Thoughts), which was published posthumously.

 

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