It’s a tough world for teachers and kids nowadays. Bombarded with information from all sorts of channels and media all the time, yet standardized testing is even more common than before, at least in the US.
What does that lead to? Well, my friend told that he watched her daughter gradually become more and more stupid during high school. It wasn’t until college that she started thinking with her own brains again. Thankfully, she was able to resist the dumbing-down attempt enough to recover from their effects.
I was a good kid at school. The kind of a kid who sits quietly, learns everything that she’s supposed to learn and remembers the right answers in exams. Too bad that I forgot most of the stuff after the exam, having just crammed everything into short-term memory the night before and puking it all out on the exam day. I knew how to conform to expectations. Still, I never really liked history or geography classes that much – I was more of a fan of math and languages. In retrospect, I guess I was too focused on trying to memorize the exact years for peace treaties between Sweden and Russia and the main export products of Bolivia, so I couldn’t see the bigger picture. As in, what was actually causing those wars between the countries, or what kind of a life Bolivians led. Nowadays I regret that my knowledge of world history is so sketchy, and that I missed the chances to devote time in immersing myself into those stories. Had they been taught in the form of stories, perhaps my understanding would be a tad more complete.
Then, entering the real world, I was afraid. There was no teacher to tell if my answer was right or not. Suddenly, I was expected to form my own opinions and express them, be daring enough to fail, drop that perfectionism. In the real world, nothing is perfect. And nothing is more effective killer of creativity than thinking there’s just one right answer. That’s even worse in research, where the goal is to figure out new answers.
It kind of makes sense that the goal of the education system is conformity. Obedient citizens don’t cause trouble and work well as cogs in the machine. Then again, finding the proper balance is hard. People should still have the basic skills in math, languages, workings of the universe, in order to comprehend and navigate the world around them. What’s more, people should get the taste of enjoyable physical activity, high-quality home-cooked food, and the appreciation of nature, culture and arts. Perhaps the most important thing would be to understand, appreciate and respect the diversity of people and the world.
As an aside, these animated talks are really excellent. Great way to grab attention.