What is education?
When does education begin and when does it end?
What is the purpose of education?
How does one go about educating?
Who should do the educating?
Where should the educating take place?
When and how does the individual take control of his or her education and how can we make sure we get them to their own self-created launching pad?
These are truly epic questions. I would love to end the post prior to this sentence, but I will go on and corrupt with further words and expressions. For the record, I do not have the answer to these questions. Do you? Does anyone? If you or anyone does, then I invite you and them to these utopian frameworks to begin the beautiful and creative process.
How does our current world answer these all important enigmas? Here we have before us intelligent little beings, supple, fresh, clear minds, bodies, and souls, equipped with the means to absorb, grow, and expand along with their minds. Indeed the brains are pre-wired to some extent as are the genes, but how to do we maximize the potential of each individual’s wiring and stimulate their innovation, creativity, and self power?
Under our current construct, I fear we confine education by a time clock, a balance sheet, a profit and loss statement, and by practicality. Education isn’t viewed as a means to something new; rather, education is viewed as a means to an end – the end being perpetuation and servitude of what already exists. The ends then dominate and justify the means. And, if the ends are struggling financially, what happens to the means? And if the ends have very limited visions, then doesn’t that in fact limit the means? Are our latest and greatest inventions the IPOD, IPAD, Viagra,and Zoloft? Shouldn’t education be thought of as the platform to transform, broaden, expand, push the envelope, and challenge what currently is? Shouldn’t education be proud and highlight a creation like the Hubble Space Telescope — a creation that has enabled us to view the gigantic universe through which our little planet is plunging? I think so.
For a moment, I want you to contemplate and think about our current education systems beginning at the point that the baby comes out of the womb all the way through high-school, through college, through graduate school. I would like to say through death but under our current construct, we do believe that there is a point where education ends and “real life” begins. Apparently, “real life” begins when a being has to start making a living. Have we, as a human civilization, done everything in our power to create the best education system possible? Are we constantly reworking and questioning our education systems and methods to continuously improve them? Is education our number one or even number two priority? I’ll answer that question. No.
Let me start at the beginning. What type of professional help, support, and philosophy is made available to the parents of newborn beings? What type of environment, sights, noises, foods, temperature variations, clothing, activities, are ideal not only for “a” new born, but for “each” new born – for “each” new born is truly unique. Even identical twins have differences. Instead of treating these little creatures like cute little stuffed animals, might we have room to start treating them like something more? Could education in fact begin right out of the womb? There are creatures in the natural world that learn to stand up right out of the womb, or must immediately fend for themselves as they hatch out of their eggs. Have you ever seen those little turtles fresh out of their eggs crawling all alone on the beach to the ocean as death pounces upon them from the skies? But what do we do with our newborns? We stick a pacifier in their mouth and often abandon them to some half ass day care center so both parents can work — just like we abandon the old to mind numbing bingo retirement homes. We talk to them like little puppies. People, these are potentially powerful and creative little creatures that are soon to become both man and woman. Is there a chance, a possibility, that we can help them along that process with more true love and admiration than that which we give to a newborn puppy or plastic doll? Don’t misunderstand me. Kiss them and hug them, let them know they are loved, talk to them, but talk to them like they are your equal, for one day, if they are raised properly, they will in fact be your superior.
As the young infant begins to grow, we then begin to feed them other things besides breast milk or formula. Now we enter the world of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, Kibble n’ Bits. People, these little beings must be fed powerful and healthy food. We also begin to introduce them to cartoons, stuffed animals, guns, dolls, and the list goes on. While we feed them nuggets and mesmerize them with cartoons, we might also stuff them into day care or pre-school for eight hours. Who makes out on this deal described above? Who is profiting by this process? Are the kids? Might there be some alternatives that are more in the interest of developing these little creatures into awe-inspiring beings? Again, don’t misuderstand me. I agree they should enjoy their childhood and have a ball, but can we make it a little more interesting and creative?
I think you get the idea so I am going to move along now to the basic school system from kindergarten through high school – there isn’t much difference along this continuum so I can cover it with one broad stroke. How do we select our teachers? How much do we train, evaluate, value and pay our teachers? How do we decide the curriculum? What kind of school buildings do we construct and where do we build them? What is the ideal student to teacher ratio? How do we integrate technology into the classroom? How do we account for differences in individuals? What do we feed children at the schools? How long do we keep them at school during the day? What types of practical and community activities do the children participate in? How often are field trips used to bring education alive? Is the curriculum focused on getting good results on standardized tests, or on “education”?
In my blunt opinion, the schools look and feel like prisons. The teachers are not the crème of the crop due to low pay, lack of training, and relatively easy selection standards. The student to teacher ratios is high. The curriculum is wrapped around standardized tests. Field trips are boring. School hours are way too long. Students do not do any practical work in the community with their hands. Technology and exciting videos are not available or incorporated at potential. The food sucks. And we wonder why kids feel like they are going to work when their alarm clocks ring at 7 am? Ok kiddies, take your SAT and off to college you go. Go become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, software engineer, or business person.
Now, let me briefly cover college in the United States – the best “higher education” system in the world. College is corrupted by enormous tuitions and expenses, professors that must publish or perish, time and major limitations, and fraternities and sororities that turn education into a drunken blurred orgy. If we mix in a little football that pretty much completes the college experience. At the end of this cycle, it is time to enter the “real world”. The time has come to choose a career and start making the coin. It is time for those philosophy, English, and art majors to get a life and a real job.
Of course, others may elect to assume even more mountains of debt and go on to graduate school to become lawyers, politicians, and doctors. If they don’t have rich parents or scholarships, they will graduate from higher education with a giant anchor of debt. That must really inspire our best and brightest. But no worries. There is always a way out. In general, the best and brightest conform and go to Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, Fortune 500 companies, and powerful law firms. And so, the wheel keeps spinning, round and round and round. There really isn’t another alternative – if you can’t beat them, then join them. Of course, you could challenge the status quo and reach the pinnacle rebellious heights of geniuses like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. These visionaries have completely altered the status quo – we no longer have to worry about debt, profit, unemployment, economic or mental depression, poverty, ignorance, over-population, environmental destruction, catastrophic war, nuclear bombs, extinction, or in short, Gridlock. Next post will offer a potential framework for education in Generation Skip.