Quality before quantity
I particularly liked the person-centered approach of the talk by Sir Ken Robinson and the first chapter of The Elephant In The Classroom because of their enthusiasm in the aesthetic experience, when senses are operating at their peak, in this case specifically in a learning environment, in opposition to what the education system is reiterating with his positivistic approach (the idea that everything need to be standardized, measurable and quantifiable to be taken seriously) that is getting anaesthetized.
According to Sir Robinson our education system is at a crisis point. It is failing to educate people to be able to succeed against the challenges of an ever changing, unpredictable, global economy. The raise of ADHD is a symptom of this failure and as always who pays the bill is the most vulnerable, in this case the children. In other words our education system is not sustainable.
It is a fact that our education system was designed to function in a different era. Driven by the imperative economic of the industrialization, this model has created chaos in many people’s life and I am sure we have all met brilliant, intelligent people who were not doing so well in school, but who flourished once they left it.
Why doesn’t our education system change then? Because, I believe, as many other features in our society, it would need tremendous efforts to reform it completely. Small adjustments within the same paradigm won’t have the results sorted. Therefore, I agree with Sir Robinson that we first need a change of paradigm and I am sure it will happen, soon or later, if we want public education to survive.
Not long ago, I was watching a movie about some students’ experience in a developing country. One of the students, a twenty-years-old woman, complained that she found absurd she had to attend classes with thirteen-years old girls. Maybe this example is a bit too extreme, but I also believe I would have felt utterly awkward to be in a class with other students much younger or older than I was. However, I still agree with Sir Robinson when he says there is no need to educate children organizing them in batches according to characteristics such as age. In fact, I realize that my experience in school was set within the same positivistic paradigm that Sir Robinson describes and that he thinks we should change. I also believe that our mind set is so colonized by this paradigm that we find virtually impossible to imagine a kind of school where classes may be organized differently from what we know.
Not really, after all there are already good examples of schools that use an approach similar to what Sir Robinson says a new education paradigm should follow (E.g. Steiner’s) that have proven to be successful, not only in terms of educating problem solvers, but also in terms of improving students’ happiness. It is also worth noticing that, in the 18th century when public compulsory education appeared, there were people against that idea because they thought it would be impossible.
Has our mindset moved forward since the enlightenment? I think so.
Our system of education is modeled on the interest of industrialization and in the old image of it. What our new society should look like?