In 2013 Dr. Sugata Mitra gave the by now infamous TED talk about his experiments on how kids learn and what he thinks about the state of the current school system.
“The problem is not that the school system is broken. It is simply obsolete”
The well-educated crowd at TED cheered. You see, we have a 300-year-old school system that is based on needs as defined by the British Empire. One of those is no longer with us…
Looking at high school specifically, I am challenged to see how the product of 5 years of schooling is not:
- employable by most businesses
- understanding how the basics of their world works practically
- knowing what they want from life
- knowing what their strengths are and how to get the most out of them
- able to communicate with peers and people older than themselves
It is left to institutions after high school to sorting out the very important points above. Now, before we continue let me state emphatically: I don’t blame the teachers.
They are hardworking people who have to deal with parents, governing bodies and principals who are looking at them to be an educator, psychologist, life coach, mentor, and disciplinarian. On top of this, their measurements are standardized which means they cannot work with what’s in front of them. They are expected to deliver the goods while dealing with class sizes of 30+ pupils, with varying abilities and motivation. All this while working with a 300-year-old system that is requiring them to learn everything they need to teach.
What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that their job?
Well actually, their job is to educate our children in such a way that they are set up to make good choices to become productive members of our society.
If they need to learn everything our kids need to know AND then accomplish this goal above while doing so, as part of an onerous system of measurements and increasing pressure to perform with a group that is too large… well, you can see where I’m going with this. And I’m not the first one questioning this; there are many experts in the field that are very worried about the education system and how it is not enabling the evolution of our society.
Well if that’s the problem, what’s the answer? The solution is quite elegant.
Roger Hamilton has a beautiful phrase:
We don’t need Teaching Teachers; we need Leading Learners.
Teaching Teachers are what we have now. But there are not enough hours in the day to absorb information and then give it to students as the sole holder of that information.
Leading Learners are teachers empowered to use and deploy the wealth of information available to them. Their job is to understand where to find the information and to herd the students to areas of information that has what they need, presented in a way that resonates with them.
Sounds great, right? In the next article, we’ll dive into some of this in more detail. Find out how kids really learn and how they are naturally better at learning than we think.