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The Problem with Public Education

Smacholdt's picture

 I thought that Sir Ken Robinson’s video that we watched in class the other day was a clever way to convey the problems with education in an entertaining way. The video was creative on so many levels- he explained the issue clearly and concisely, while providing entertaining illustrations that drew the view’s attention to what he was talking about. In addition, the way he “taught” this topic is exactly the way that experts in the field of education say that our brains learn best- though drawing and connected, “idea webs” such as the one that Robinson drew during the presentation.

In addition, Robinson told us a story. Stories draw our interest, which is why I think we should be telling more of them in the classroom. This would surly be a more interesting and informative way to learn than by the standard lesson plan.

I found a lot of parallels between Robinson’s video and The Call of Stories. One point that Robinson makes is that children are very creative and ready to learn new things when  they are young, but the public school system sucks this life out of them. When Coles describes some of his child patients he says, “they’re playwrights, they’re storytellers!” Later on he talks about “a child’s superior powers of observation and empathy.” Coles seems to think, and I whole-heartedly agree, that one of the things that should be done to improve education is to interest children with stories. The way in which kids are fascinated with fairy tales can translate into a fascination with learning, if education is approached in a more alternative way. In his Journals, Thoreau says, “Simply to see a distant horizon through a clear air...this is wealth enough or one afternoon.” If we can find ways to keep kids thinking creatively and “outside the box”, the way they intuitively do, maybe there will be more hope for our education system.



rachelr's picture

The "edge of learning"

 In my biology lab this semester we discussed the "edge of learning." Its good to remember that you need to understand the material that you are dealing with before moving on, but also that you can go beyond an initial goal and see where your discoveries take you. If, as scientists (and academics), we begin to settle for the minimum, both we and science will not reach our full potentials and I'm sure that many important advances and discoveries would be lost. We need to think about advancements and how to better push ourselves and others further than the restraints of our own experiments. How can we learn to not stop at the end of the experiment and say, “Well okay, I did this and I proved this, that’s great!!!” and be done with the idea. It needs to be taught that yes we completed something, but now there are new ways to branch off after that and continue the research than to simply be done. So how can education present science as something that goes beyond the instruction manual in lab? I don’t have an answer to this.


Owl's picture

I also agree! To add however,

I also agree! To add however, I also think that one of the biggest reasons that his animation on changing education paradigms was also intriguing because there was no form to the images. Sure they all connected to one another, but there was no limit to what could be could be added or even possibly removed. I think he was one who literally practiced what he preached in creating this animation.

FatCatRex's picture

A Senior's Reflection on Education

Like Smacholdt, I also loved the visual representation of Robinson's video/animation presentation. I felt like it spoke exactly to me, as a study of constant motion with a clear narrative and of course, general theme that is near and dear to me (hello, $50K college education). I've been thinking about this video a lot actually, and discussed it in detail with my friend who is also a senior. At this point in my educational career (graduating in a semester, knock on wood, and gearing up for potentially three more years of school for a graduate degree) it is easy to feel reflective. This course has encouraged me to be even MORE reflective about my own role in my education, especially as we get ready to perform our finals for each other and then put together a portfolio. Perhaps I'm pre-empting my portfolio reflection a bit, but I have sometimes found myself frustrated with my own assembly-line-trained academic tendencies. That is to say, one of thing that attracted me to this course was the role we were each expected to play in our the design and implementation of our own educational destiny. I love that, and I think each of us is capable of determining and speaking up for what works best for us, what we want to learn and how. Despite my affection for this pattern of learning, I've become cranky with own tendencies to shy away from this responsibility. I have a hard time escaping the traditional education and approved learning I was taught in the first 22 years of my little life. Obviously this isn't much to be proud of, particularly as I know from my own family experience that the assembly-line / out-dated mode of education doesn't work for a lot of folks. It took my brother 10 years to get his undergraduate BS, as well as struggling through four different kinds of high school environments. Me? I'm lucky enough that brain mostly functions in a school environment, and yet now that I want to think outside the box a little (ie, in this class) I sometimes have a hard time--what is it about this book that I like? What do I want to explore more, just to learn about? I'm embarrassed that it takes more thinking for me to think outside the box, but thanks to our industrial revolution education model, I think I can blame that a bit.

I wish that school had more to do with stories, from the beginning. If I'd been forced to think about the transformative power of stories for stories sake (Coles) and what I wanted to learn (Anne) from an early age on, I'd be in much better practice now. As it stands, this course and (getting back to the original post) this video have been really helpful to me as I get my energies and spirits up for my last undergraduate semester.

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