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Does Our Education System Produce Life or Death?

By SowingGood / 29 September, 2016
Education outcomes objectives and ideals

There's a tremendous shift happening in the educational landscape.


In the United States, homeschooling used to be considered an alternative education. However it is now widely accepted and indeed preferred by rapidly increasing numbers of parents.​ Even Singapore, in spite one of the most highly-regarded education systems in the world, has increasingly more parents who are opting to homeschool.

Finland's Different Approach to Education

Finland is now recognised for being top in mathematics, science and reading. Yet their education system is almost completely opposite to the narrow, standardized ​testing system used by most countries. They are not obsessed with these narrow academic competencies. Children in Finland are NOT assessed by formal, standardised tests till 18. Their school hours are short, and they have minimal homework. Without the encumbrances of teaching for the sake of scoring in tests, children are brought up in a school environment that allows them to learn and grow.

But I would argue that reading and math scores are not the be all and end all of desired educational outcomes. Therefore whether Finnish students score top marks in PISA math and reading tests or not ​is not the point, since these should not be the only measures or main objectives of good education.​

Reimagining Education

Doing away with the unhealthy obsession with narrowly defined subject testing provides an environment where each child's unique talents can be discovered and developed instead of being dismissed and destroyed.

A good grasp of language, and a solid foundation in math and science is important. But using these as the primary means to measure a child's value and define their future can have dire consequences. The systems results in those who do not fit the cookie cutter system being marginalized and stigmatized.

Instead of building a society based on justice and equality, we are inevitably building a society divided by class. One in which  children are classified from an early age based on a narrow set diagnostic assessments. A system which celebrates only those who are good at passing exams in subjects that have little relevance in most of real life.

As for those who excel in other areas, they are all too easily dismissed as failures, consigned to a path with less esteemed jobs and lower wages.

But we should not and must not resign ourselves to the status quo.

Ken Robinson on How to Escape Education's Death Valley

According to Sir Ken Robinson (who led the British government's advisory committee on creative and cultural education in 1998 and was subsequently knighted in 2003), there are three principles crucial for the human mind and life to flourish, and "they are contradicted by the culture of education under which most teachers have to labor and most students have to endure."

These principles are:

3 principles that help us flourish

  1. Human beings are naturally different and diverse​.
  2. Curiosity is the engine of achievement.
  3. Hand education back to the people.

The successes stories we hear about today are in spite of the current education system.  The current mainstream education system is one of death - essentially a machine that kills creativity in it's unrelenting cycle of churning out workers - mindless minions, to serve in the industrial revolution of the 19th century. But we are no longer living in the 19th century, and the skill sets of yesteryear are not going to suffice in the post-industrial age that we now live in.

Robinson concludes that the real role of leadership in education at any level - national,  state or local school  - is not, and should not, be command and control from the top. Instead the role of leadership is to facilitate a climate of possibility. 

Watch his funny and stirring presentation​ on TED Talks about creating a climate to nurture the best out of the next generation.

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