DOES SCHOOL PREPARE YOU FOR THE FUTURE?
WRITTEN BY SUANNE LA ROSE
Do you think the school curriculum prepares kids for the future world?
This is not a simple yes or no question. Or a simple one-liner answer. Not only have we all had previous school experiences that have in some way, shape or form brought us to the place we are at now, whether that be a good experience or a rotten one. It has shaped our view on how we react and interact with those around us, it has impacted our viewpoint and our growth to some extent.
So to answer this question, as concisely as possible, we called on our resident Contributors, Karin a child psychologist and Veronica Founder of the School of Human Connection.
ACCORDING TO THE ENCYCLOPEDIA,
back in the 1960s “Formal schooling did little to encourage creativity or individuality. They charged that students were merely being prepared to enter the workforce and accept authority and mediocrity passively, rather than to think for themselves.”
What a frightening thought! It’s necessary to remember that “back” in the 60s, there was the Vietnam war, so education isn’t something that was top on the list. Especially when the three R’s were being taught – remember this?
Reading, [w]riting and [a]arithmetic?
What did this actually prepare us for and have we as a society been able to move on and grow from this thinking that education is only important for the three R’s?
In some instances, I really do think we have, but in so many others not. After listening to Karin share some of her own stories, I don’t think some schools have moved forward. Karin has fond memories of her thirst for learning, she remembers being taught to sew and had cooking classes.
Part of me wonders if sewing and cooking are part of the education syllabus or do they belong to a family or the community institution?
Do schools have a responsibility to fill in the gaps when parents can’t educate their children about the basics?
There is a nonprofit organization in Washington D.C., the USA that has said that there is a larger global trend where countries want to shift their education goals to keep up with the ever-changing workplace and society, there is more of a focus on the students’ critical thinking skills.
When I hear that, I hear future thinking, raising awareness, learning not for the sake of learning but for elements of applicability.
Should parents and educators be advocating for more schools to be teaching real-life skills?
CONVENTIONAL VS. NON-TRADITIONAL SCHOOLING.
How many of us reading this, had a foreign language in high school? Home Economics, Business Management, Woodwork? These were the non-traditional classes back in the ’90s. Did you, like me, avoid schoolwork and chose to do Home Economics because it was way more fun to bake meringues (and flop) than it was to study and figure out Algebra? Do you see conventional schooling evolving? There are schools that can’t seem to move it into the 21st century and insist on doing things the same way but this is not true of all schools.
What do educators hope to get out of the system these days? Is it very cookie-cutter in its giving? Do we learn for the need of learning or because we are told we have to? Are students these days learning practical skills? If there was a need to walk into the workforce tomorrow, would they know how to communicate with their peers? This is not the expectation for a 5-year old, trust me! From birth, we (or most) teach communication to our children, learning good communication and relationship skills – relevant no matter the age. Do you think we are past the age where the school is just one big “data download”?
The non-traditional school seem to be on the rise, where children learn through active engagement. Each child is unique, and so is the way they grasp things, so are their learning styles. There are a few prominent non-traditional schools around, for example, the Montessori School (which started in the poorer parts of Rome), the Waldorf, Carden and Progressive schools. These schools aim at growing with the ever-changing world, for example, allowing students to explore subjects that they have interesting, not being tested the conventional ways with grades and marks, and allowing children to develop their imaginations.
Not everything about schooling is negative. School teaches us healthy habits – attendance and responsibilities, all things that are needed in the real world. Maybe homework should be looked at as a tool and not a form of punishment. Tools of investigation and discovery. Homework teaches us how to put things into practice. We are all individuals, wired differently, so we see things in different ways, and not all of us learn the same way. Why aren’t they necessary skills being taught? Are the skills they are currently learning applicable? Can they be used in their everyday happenings, as connection with others at school, interactions with their school friends and teachers?
The real things in life, aren’t being taught in the educational system. When you leave school do you have the necessary skills to function in the real world? Do you remember the last time you went to a library and took out an encyclopedia or had to sit in the library surrounded by books and having to search through books to get the information that you needed? The school of Google has everything we need right at our fingertips – it is the way of the world.
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AROUND THE WORLD.
Syllabi vary from country-to-country and even then, neighbourhood-to-neighbourhood. Each school has a goal that they hope to instil in its students. Is learning Math and Science, going to make me a better person? There is standardized testing, we want to measure everyone against. There seems to be a limited emphasis on how to enhance each person’s gifts and talents. Each child is different, but as an educational society, we want children to be taught the same and be the same.
An interesting point that Karin shared with us today is that in the Netherlands (as well as in Finland) kids in primary school (those under the age of 10) receive little to no homework at all. (Where do I sign up?) The rationale: Parents and teachers both recognize the need for children to play more after school. In school, children are also taught that they need to be friends with everyone. Do you like everyone you meet? I am pretty sure you don’t! There is not that expectation for adults, so why do we have that expectation for children? Is this right? Everyone doesn’t have to be friends with everyone and get along. Shouldn’t we be teaching them to trust their instincts and who they can and can’t trust, where their strengths and weakness lie? These basic relationship skills can be taught at an early stage, just like learning please and thank you.
This is not true for all countries in the world, I wish it was. Many places have so much pressure on kids to “play” after school, to play sports, to do ballet, or extramural activities to help round out the children, but this can also cause added stress, and pressure to perform. There has to be a healthy balance. Does the school teach children the skills to learn effectively? Some children are better at learning than others, and to no one’s fault, there are so many ways of learning and we live in a (rapid) ever-changing with technology and development.
IS THERE VALUE IN TEAMWORK OR INDIVIDUALITY?
In addition to no homework for kids until their last year in primary school, the Netherlands focuses on driving teamwork. Teamwork is an important skill, we learn to recognize differences, respecting of other people’s ideas and opinions (these are called life skills), and how to rely on people. Sometimes this can be exceptionally challenging, not everyone functions well in a team setting, and this can be a positive or negative interaction. Measuring skills like teamwork or emotional intelligence is not as simple as it is measuring the standard subjects. One’s grade should not depend on whether or not someone else put in the work. Why is it so hard to see everyone as individuals, with there being so many different types of learning methods (Auditory, Social, Logic, etc.) why can we not focus on what works best for each person. What impact does it have on the success they have in life, as they were measurable on one scale? Many jobs done these days are a team effort, it’s not really beneficially to always teach working individually, but let’s remember we are not all cut from the same cloth. Karin and Veronica are two people with similar interests and passions but are wired differently, they are unique, they are individuals. Can we not allow children the same gift, the gift of being able to be themselves, of being uniquely independent the way we as adults strive for?
THE NECESSARY SKILLS.
Veronica: We can all agree that when entering the workforce, a high school diploma doesn’t generally prepare for the real world. Kids are not prepared with the basic skills, being able to regulate their own emotions (emotional intelligence), how to handle money, team, how to have better relationships, sustain and build the relationships, teamwork, communication, make better decisions, critical thinking, SELF-aware, to be resilient. There is a limited environment to encourage strengthens, uniqueness, passions – schools have basic career guidance that they offer, but that is as far as it goes.
Veronica started the School of Human Connection this year, the school has three main focuses. The primary intended audience is global leaders who have already achieved a lot in their careers and personal lives and are ready to take the next step towards self-actualisation, which is one of the strongest driving forces of the human psyche. The secondary focus for this school is to prepare the next generation of leaders, young people who have not been taught critical life skills in traditional education – these skills can range from everyday things, creativity and imagination, self-assurance and communication skills. Imagine getting a Diploma in Humanity or a Degree in Wisdom or even a Qualification in Kindness? I am so excited about the opportunities that this school offers, we are never too old to stop learning, we are never too old to learn new things. And lastly, the school aims to have a social impact, that will be achieved by various initiatives fostering human connections and inclusion, as well as building strong communities worldwide.
The School of Human Connection focuses on these three points
- connection to self
- connection with others (how to connect)
- connection to a higher power/universe/God
We need all three, we can’t get one correct before we connect the others.
What works for me, how do I function?
We are wired to connect, we are being taught to achieve – what is the value of human connection as the thread (connection with yourself, who am I, what works best for me) how do I work?
How am I the most productive?
Self-esteem is impacted when they are being measured on something that they shouldn’t be measured on schools have a huge impact on our children and how they view life. Schools are not here to break down our children but to raise them. “Bad teachers” are teachers who don’t understand how they learn, or what is the best method for them to learn. When we damage children, then that damage needs to be undone and this takes time and sometimes years. If we teach these things to children at a younger age, think how much better they will function as adults.
What impact does it have on the success they have in life, as they were measurable on one scale?
Can we not encourage children in their natural curiosity? How do we find a way to let our kids live their dreams and not let them die?
Does education make us better people, does it help us make the world a better place?
In gaining your education, you’ll be gaining a deeper understanding of what’s right, and what is wrong, fair and unfair. Develop your cognitive and critical thinking skills happens at school; all of which you will be able to use situations in your life.
What is missing?
- The system measures children identically and disregards their passions, talents, and gifts and their different types of intelligence… And doesn’t prepare them for the real world.
- Communication, resilience, leadership, compassion, generosity, empathy, relationship building, being a global citzen, are a few of the relevant skills needed for the real world.
- The right approach can really do wonders for a child’s self-esteem. The wrong approach can damage a child’s self-esteem (this is not always true), they don’t come to know their strengths and what value they add to their surroundings.
What the syllabus is doing, is making sure they get through the system.
Does it empower them, to be their best, to be strong intelligent human beings who know how to connect with others?
Society says you need to get an education.
Peer pressure kicks in and guilts you into thinking you need an education.
Unsolicited advice happens, “why are you following behind?”
We are not all the same, we will not all have the same path and destination.
Let us advocate for our future generations, for our children, for hope…
Let’s find a way to encourage our children, to allow them to dream, to dream big, and to nourish their talents and passions.
Whitney Houston said it best in her 1985, Greatest Love of All
“I believe the children are our are future. Teach them well and let them lead the way…”
So, let’s treat all learners, all people as the future and set them up for success! As the world evolves, so should the skills needed to better navigate it.