What is the world that humans have created if not a collection of all the knowledge that came before? The ability to learn from others so rapidly is what makes human special as a species and there is really no underestimating just how important this trait is. We have a tendency to make fun or avoid middle schools, high schools, the summer camp or other types of school while we are in them for the sheer fact that they don’t feel important. While parents think of what the top preschools or the best camps might be, as kids we tend to just want to have fun without thinking about what all that learning might mean. But this is a huge problem, especially in American life, one that we haven’t yet properly solved. It might not seem like a big problem but just think about what this simple fact entails. As children, we are encouraged by both other children and culture in general that the very thing that makes us who we are and what our species is isn’t fun. That’s kind of crazy, right? To think that we are saying that learning isn’t fun and that it’s better to just blow it off. Try as parents might, they often just can’t make going to school seem like a fun prospect. But, really, the problem doesn’t lie entirely with parents. It lies somewhere much deeper and stranger.
- Cognitive differences and the educational process
Our school system is structured the way it is for very old reasons. Reasons that are so ingrained that we often don’t even think about it. The only people who think about it are, ironically, educational and instructive majors whose sole job it is to think about these things. But most of us don’t spend our time thinking about how to improve something that is actually so fundamental. And, really, what could be more fundamental than improving our middle schools and high schools, the very places where young minds are taught what they are going to be most passionate about? So, the question remains, why are our current schools set up the way that they are? Who designed them and why? That’s a fun question but, man, the answer goes back a very very long way. The ancient Greeks were the first we know of to perfect the lecture system of education where students would listen to the teacher speak and later regurgitate the information. Later on, the Romans would copy this technique and, thus, most of the western world into the middle and renaissance ages. Eventually, the societies set up after the renaissance ages, our social systems in other words, were modeled after these. It just seemed like the most practical system for education in middle schools and high schools. In every school.
It really wasn’t
Cheeky title aside, these systems of education were only useful in one real aspect and that’s teaching the students who were good at learning from listening. And, yes, it is true that there were, and still are, students who were good at learning purely from listening but that’s certainly not the vast majority of students. There are as many styles and methods of education for engaging with new material as there are students in the world. There are students who learn by doing and by developing patterns that they say aloud. There are students who learn from reading and students who learn from writing songs. There are even those students who learn by building structures, either abstract or physical, and feeding themselves the information from seeing it visually. There are styles for everyone and, sadly, our current systems of education don’t take any of these into account at all. We are actually doing a disservice to the students in middle schools and high schools by completely excluding them when it comes time to test how much they’ve learned. If we want to make sure everyone learns what they are passionate about then we have to learn more about educational styles and implement what we’ve learned into public and private schools so that we can continue to make the world a stronger, safer and smarter place.