Well, if you ask me, they’re not designed for the modern world.
They are no longer up to par.
Note: If you ask me = this is an opinion = I don’t claim to be an expert in this matter but instead would like to share my opinion with you (and get yours too).
Comments are OPEN on this article and I’d love to get yours. More on that later.
First of all, I have some explaining to do.
What? No Google?
So I’m walking on the beach with my son and somehow we get to talking about his history homework.
This particular piece of homework reminded me very much of a very similar piece of homework I had when I was the same age (as my son). It was about the Romans.
I told my son that to do the same piece of homework, I had to go to the local library. I remember it quite vividly because I had gotten myself into quite a state at the time – I wasn’t particularly studious, but for some reason I had gotten pretty stressed about this particular piece of homework.
I explained to my son that we had these books in the library called “Encyclopedias” – the Encyclopedia Britannia – huge volumes that were expensive and that you weren’t permitted to take out of the library like the other books. So to do my homework I had to spend time in the library opening up these huge volumes one by one on the library table, cross-referencing them (anyone remember that?) and copying out – by hand – all of the relevant pieces of information for my homework.
I explained this is because in those days we didn’t have Google.
“What do you mean, ‘you didn’t have Google’?” … my son wanted clarification of this point.
“Not even the internet”, I explained, therefore ruling out help from any other search engine too.
Things got worse in my example because after I got home I realized that I’d misunderstood the homework and that I’d missed an important part. The library was now closed and I was starting to panic. I did have one way out – one of our neighbors was a school teacher and my parents suggested I try calling for help. Despite this being a really frightening idea for a 12 year-old child, I did so and remember spending time in my neighbors house. He was more elderly than my parents and quite a strict man, but on his bookshelves, he had an extensive series of history books and more encyclopedias which he pointed me to and left me to study whilst he and his family continued watching TV in the next room.
A few hours later I completed my history homework. Needless to say, with all the various sources I had used, it had become quite a complex task to complete. In total that homework had probably taken me about 6-8 hours (it was some time ago so I’m afraid I can’t be any more accurate than that).
To do the same homework and get much better results took my son minutes rather than hours and involved a couple of google searches from the comfort of his own – well, anywhere.
Difficult to explain how much different the world was before the internet – my son couldn’t imagine such a world existing.
The Problem With Schools
My son goes to a great school. The things I like about it are that they are fairly practical and the subjects are increasingly applied rather than just being theory – and I hope things continue to develop this way.
We had two schools to choose from in our local area. Unlike the other school which is also regarded as an excellent school, my sons school treats the children more like adults – discussing with them what they are learning rather than telling them and instructing them to listen. This is the aspect that I like the most.
The problem with schools in my view is that even those that are evolving still have a large part of their curriculum based on learning by rote and memorizing stuff.
What is the point in that?
More traditional schools do more of this. More stuff to memorize and regurgitate at exam time.
This used to be important when we needed to keep this information in our heads, but this in my view is a waste of time in todays world. Time that could be spent more constructively challenging the children and interacting with them.
Really, what is the point in filling our children’s heads with information they can get in a 2 second search from Google (or any other search engine for that matter)?
What Should We Be Teaching Our Children
The world has changed significantly.
We now live in a world where information is as free as water (more so in some countries) – it’s nothing special and it’s not enough to succeed. We all have this at our fingertips.
We also have other possibilities like never before – what we should be teaching our children is how to take advantage of these possibilities.
I’ve already told you how anyone can create a website in under 3 minutes. It’s so simple that my 84 year old aunty who never even owned a computer could do it – but that’s just the start. You can also buy a house, sell a house, learn a craft, publish a book, state an opinion, create a movement, network, start a pop career… we no longer need the middleman to do these things.
The kid in class who daydreams, questions the status quo and wants to make their own stuff is often seen as the most difficult – the disruptive one – but this is exactly what I think schools, and parents, now need to embrace.
So I think, unfortunately, a lot of our schools are out of step with the modern world.
Memorizing stuff just isn’t enough.
Not even close.
We should be teaching our children to create, to question, to engage, to interact and to explore. To dabble, to experiment, to fail, to learn and to adapt.
Some schools have started moving in this direction but in my view still have a long way to go. So if the school’s not teaching your children these things (or at least encouraging them as a lot of this stuff will come naturally anyway) – then you should be.
This is a subject I find fascinating – because it’s on the boundaries of education, social behavior, psychology and also business. The world is changing fast and schools are not the only example of institutions that are in danger of getting left behind.
I see examples every day when interacting with my children and am often fascinated and trying to keep up myself – for the moment I feel up to date but it won’t be long until I’m hanging on by my fingernails.
This is just my opinion and I’d welcome some discussion on the subject – so how about sharing yours by adding a brief comment below?