samedi 17 octobre 2015

On education

What do you think about the fact that our children are taught with the same system as our grand-grand-parents? Our world changed drastically but our education system is fundamentally the same since more than 100 years, even if we now use tablets rather than chalk boards. Through this article, I am contributing to the abundant literature on this subject, but from my point of view.

The main problem of our education is focusing on succeeding and not learning itself. I remember my self that my goal during school and even during university was succeeding exams. What about knowledge itself? it becomes a side effect of getting A grades, rather than being the ultimate goal. It's just now that I go back to my old school books and seek knowledge, now that I don't have to prove anything by exams.

Another important issue with our education is preparing young people for being misinformed, followers, and almost misanthropic (oh yes!!):
  • How many school teachers gave its students the keys to find information and create their own opinion, instead of just stuffing kids with already mashed information & believes? I like the image given by Marshall Rosenberg in one of his conferences to illustrate this process of teaching: The teacher is a bottle of milk and the children are empty glasses. At the beginning, the bottled pours milk in the small glasses. During the exams, the glasses pours the milk back in the bottle. What we have left with in the end? a bottle with less milk surrounded by dirty and empty glasses.
    Look at scholar history books, most of them give the national understanding of the history, instead of letting the students debate and form their own opinion. It is a fuel for the continuous conflicts we are witnessing in the world.
  • In the same idea, we kill the creativity of kids by teaching them only convergent thinking. How many geniuses failed schools because of their creativity/divergent thinking? I have written about it more in detail in this previous article.
  • What about teaching kids to collaborate instead of competing? I really like what Albert Jacquard says about this aberration which is competition. Teach kids to realize themselves through others and not against them.
  • Through my professional experience, I have seen a lot of inefficient conflict situations because of misunderstandings. Colleagues were not able to put themselves in the skin of others, as simple as it seems. We urgently need to teach our children empathy and non violent communication.
The third major point I want to mention about current education, is its tendency to form very specialized people with kind of horse tacks on their eyes. I mean by that their blindness toward subjects different than their own field of specialties, what Nicolas Nassim Taleb calls tunneling. Take for example an economist who conceives the world through only financial equations without taking into consideration ethical matters. Oups, this economist existed indeed! David Ricardo, thanks to whom capitalism started to become financial, leading to modern disasters like the 2008 subprime crisis. It's very dangerous to have such specialists in our butterfly-effect-world. We need specialists, but with enough general culture and knowledge. For example I have heard about some initiatives in a Scandinavian country, where per-matter exams are replaced by multidisciplinary school projects.

One final thing i want to mention about this subject is the lack of spiritualism in schools. I remember that school was a race of succeeding exams, to finish and start real life of working and producing like machines. I don't remember just sitting, thinking about my existence, enjoying and appreciating the beauty of the world, the nature and the human being. I would have loved someone to send me philosophical letters like Sophie the fictional character of Jostein Gaarder. I no wonder that so many of us face existential crisis at some point of life.

Education is the door to the evolution of our civilization, I doubt profoundly any evolution based on a 100 years old system.

2 commentaires :

  1. Great article, Achraf.
    We are really educating our kids to a world we don't know which skills will be needed. But some are universal: we have to teach them to make decisions, communicate well, ask the right questions and not fear making mistakes in an ever changing world.
    I'd love to know more about this "Scandinavian country, where per-matter exams are replaced by multidisciplinary school projects."

  2. Thank you Fernando !

    Here is an article about Education in Finland/Norway: