Improving Our Education System

There is no shortage of proscriptions for how to improve our deficient public education system – indeed, there are probably more solutions given then there are efforts to actually implement them.

But this video, courtesy of RSA, is by far one of the best. Speaker Sir Ken Robinson, a noted education reformer, offers some pretty interesting observations and ideas regarding how to better teach young people, which includes (as I’ve long argued) changing the cultural and society attitudes that structure educational policy. Much of what he says has been expressed by other reformers as well, which suggests that there is a pretty solid consensus on what needs to be done (although not necessarily how it needs to be done).

As to be expected, these aren’t going to be quick or easy to implement – it’ll likely take much time and a multidimensional approach – but we can’t afford to ignore the problem for much longer. See the video, or check out his website to judge for yourselves. At the very least, there’s a conversation going.

An Open Mind

Making the rounds on Imgur is a presumed letter written by a professor of Cross-Cultural Psychology and sent to his students following a prior dispute about his curriculum (the university and the professor’s name are, of course, withheld). Aside from eloquently scolding some of them for their behavior – which you’ll learn about as you read along – his lengthy tract makes excellent points about the importance of challenging one’s views, keeping an open-mind, and facilitating an atmosphere of free inquiry.

As a university graduate who loved school, I could certainly relate with the instructor’s dismay and subsequent suggestion. I even deal with or witness similar incidents. A lot of people, even in their vibrant and curious youth, are too embedded in their preconceived beliefs; they seem regard an education as nothing more than a path to get a degree and make money (and in fairness, this mentality stems from institutional flaws within the education system, as well as pernicious societal influence.

But even outside the university environment, we should strive for the kind of honest and free-thinking that is outlined in the letter. We’re not perfect, and we’ll always be prone to bias, irrationality, and prejudice. But the point is to at least try and, most importantly, not infringe on other people’s efforts to learn too (in or out of school).