A Critique of the Modern Education System

What is art? An expressive fulfillment of an artist’s right mind quota? A release of creative energy? It simply must be more. Art, without a viewer, without a venue, is wasted. With no one to interpret the value to their own life, or to even critique the use of color patterns and hues, art is breathless, and has no bearing in our world.

This critical analysis of viewer on art has relevance to education, yet. Our communities would not function if it weren’t for the passion of the artist, the critique of the viewer, and perhaps the morals of both. Schools must, and could mold students into these roles, however, our education system currently lacks. The future of education could create citizens who have the qualities of critical thinking, passion and morality, three traits of an exception human. Wouldn’t you want exceptional humans running the planet?

If I could design an educational system for universities to adopt, it would revolve around those three characteristics, much like the philosophy of Sugata Mitra, a speaker from the mini-documentary “Future Learning,” which revolves around producing students who excel in reading comprehension, information retrieval and belief. My college program would be interdisciplinary, would implement the use of technology, and would place emphasis on the human side of education, rather than lackluster content and information.

To inspire passion in college students, my program would, as David Siffrec puts it, “blur the line between learning and play.” Children who play video games often learn quickly and efficiently the skills needed to explore, create, and problem solve. My university would run similarly. There would be many programs where students can explore their interests; they could create their own degree, take classes that fascinate them, talk monthly with students like them, about topics that interest them. I would want to see heated debates, lots of laughing, and inspired work outside the classroom. Of course, the coursework would be relevant to a career, but in order to remain focused and motivated, students should enjoy the work they’re doing.

For students to think critically, the program would be very interdisciplinary. IDS involves systems thinking and the theory of complexity, which helps students look at large and multifaceted problems in order to break them down. In this university, students would be faced with real life issues or projects that have many layers, and many stakeholders. They would break away from doctrine. This would require them to think critically about prioritization, what needs to be done and what doesn’t, and how to solve the problem as a whole. That way, when students leave, they’re prepared for anything life throws their way.

Lastly, something that many universities lack is a program or curriculum that emphasizes being a good person. It’s a humble idea, but it holds so much value. I oft wonder why we are at war, why we argue, why we steal, why we lie to our brothers and sisters. I wonder if this is due to our education as a child. We were told to be kind and genuine, and essentially we had the right to choose whether or not we wanted to conform to that. Once people grow up, if they don’t see a personal need to be that way, they won’t. A program that emphasizes an ethical consciousness, one of many values of IDS, might change the way students behave. It might even just be on a small scale, where students start to hold doors for one another, or they start complimenting strangers. Or, it could progress and happen on a large scale, and it could create a kind and thoughtful community of people looking out for one another. In order for this to work, the philosophical issues that are brought forth to students need to be relevant to their life. They need to care about them in order to act upon them. Professors should pose difficult ethical questions to students on tests, rather than ones that are information based. The content should address issues far beyond the molecular physiology of cells or the proper use a semi colon. Classes and lectures should make students think far beyond the hour they sit in class.

Technology, as mentioned in the film, is a huge part of today’s educational system. It’s a hot, debated topic that poses many a question. Should we reject technology completely, in the fear that it is destroying our interpersonal skills? Should we merely limit it? Should we embrace it fully? I think technology should supplement the educational system. I noticed in the film that doctors were using an iPad to reference during a mock surgery. Sure, it’s convenient, but how does that help the students transfer skills to real life? They can’t reference their notes in real time, when there’s an imminent procedure on their hands. Technology makes folks dependent on quick information retrieval. We need people to learn experientially, with lots of practice. It’s a great pedagogical tool, and it keeps people with the times, but as Seth Weinberger insists, technology should be used for “lower order” teaching.

Imagine a world of critical, passionate and moral people. Perhaps there’d be less war, and less corruption. Or maybe people would simply be kinder. I think that our current education system does a great job with information assimilation, but in order to instill the traits listed above, our education system needs to be more experiential; after all, that’s what life is. When we face problems, we don’t have notes to reference, or word problems to break down. Education should inspire students to be good people who question ideas and fervently tackle life’s tasks. Everything is abstract, like art, and with a collection of experiences, we can face challenges bravely.

Works Cited:

GOODMagazine. “Future Learning | Mini Documentary | GOOD.” YouTube. YouTube, 30 May 2012. Web. 13 May 2016.

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