“Do not train children in learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” –Plato
With that being said, there must be changes made to the way we perceive and value our education, shifting the focus to something that embraces creativity, newness and compassion, not compliance and ability to remember facts.
Public education in general, has always been a top-down approach, a one-size-fits-all curriculum that streams students based on standardized exams. Not only is this a highly competitive, cut-throat environment, it does little to manage one’s expectations on what’s coming for the future.
With the new era of the digital industry, AI replacing many jobs and old ideas losing relevance, traditional forms of education may be undermined. To combat this, we must change our attitudes towards learning and education.
Instead of attempting to cram vast amounts of knowledge, education should prepare students to adapt to an ever-changing world. Forcing memorization and tired content only to assess their readiness for the world through test scores is counterproductive. Students need to become effective self-learners, trained to have curious minds and self-learning skills. To be okay with knowing that there is no 100 per cent guaranteed success.
Next, schools can design programs that only focus on learning, without the pressure of being tested formally. Train students from a young age to take charge of their own learning by ditching the age-old rhetoric on grades as a way to track progress. Instead, empower them by giving them more opportunities to be responsible for their learning through projects where they can contribute to something bigger than themselves.
While there have been many instances where students get to pitch ideas to external organisations, many do not try because they feel bogged down by academic pressure. Many that take on such opportunities can either cope academically or have the right forms of support. This is not a fair assessment because not every student has access to the same resources.
Society at large has a critical role to play. Organisations need to be a part of the education system because they are the means to an end. This means that project-based learning has to go beyond a “school project”.
By designing every school as an idea generation machine to understand and address local problems, we can give students more space to grow as individual self-learners. Learning and education should not be seen as torture devices that perpetuate a system of inequality, it should empower and provide opportunities for people to understand where they fit into the world and how they can contribute to the betterment of society, and not just for individualistic pursuits.
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