I had mentioned last week that I will be sharing my thinking on education and how there is a growing concern about how and what our kids are learning and hearing in school. Again, to be clear, I am not criticizing our teachers. I have no doubt that the majority are fine educators who care and take great pride in the work they do. My position has always been that it is not the teachers who are struggling but rather the system that they are expected to work in. I’m also quite certain that we are doing the best we can given the pedagogy but it is not good enough given the demands and expectations of todays marketplace. Business is saying so and a growing number of college and university students are saying so. The focus of “education” needs to be re-visited and a new definition of what education means needs to be agreed to. WE NEED TO DO IT DIFFERENTLY TO SATISFY THE DEMANDS OF THE NEW WORLD THAT IS COMING.
While saying this we also need to understand that our kids have changed as well. Their basic needs and demands are different. The world is not the same place as it was when we were school age kids. For as much as the world has changed it has not become an easier place in which to live. I have recently begun to read a book by Steven Pinker called “Enlightenment Now-The case for reason, science, humanism and progress.” Want to get a broader and more in depth idea about where we are going-read this.
So what is it our kids aren’t being taught in school. We seem to think that as long as we teach them about the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and how to remember enough about them that somehow we are going to be alright. We are about so much more than that and to assume that somehow schools have figured out what we need is naive at best. As we become more entrenched and more dependent on technology to lead us along. In the process we have become less dependent on our natural skills and less aware of what our human needs are. You can’t know what you don’t know.
Things that have happened recently in Toronto are easily explained away by saying the antagonists and perpetrators have mental health problems. In stead of taking responsibility for what is going on we are too busy looking to blame something or someone for what is going on. As a professional I looked at life at home first and then beyond. Our children are products of what they see and hear at home or by those around them. If we take a look at just one aspect of what is happening with our kids: teenage suicides have increased by 30-40% in the last 5 years–why? Some speculate that it is because of social media and spending upwards of 5-6 hours per day being “connected.” There is the whole cyber bullying thing going on and the pressure to “fit in” to a group. There are the inflated pressures of familial expectations to succeed-go to the best schools or to be all things-great athlete, great student, popular and so on. Medical prescriptions being written for our kids borders on criminal in my mind. Many of our children live in a world that doesn’t truly exist-often alone. They are usually right when they tells us “we don’t understand their world.”
The role of schools needs to be re-defined. I’m not meaning changing them into re-habs to treat drug and alcohol abuse or to treat mental health concerns but we need to recognize that there are other important things like real world issues that need to be discussed and understood. Our children need to feel they have a voice in these matters–that they are a part of something. Kids need to learn about how to recognize the symptoms of anger or stress or depression and be introduced to strategies and approaches that will help to reduce the anxiety they experience. They need to talk about these situations to adults they know or are familiar with–not referred to someone else a week or a month down the road. They need to hear that it’s OK to talk about these things. Education needs to teach the “WHOLE LEARNER” not just the student from the neck up.
Kids have far to much time on their hands that is not productive time spent. Technology was supposed to allow for people to get involved in other activities like learning new skills or finding out about pursuing other interests. For kids it was supposed to create more time to socialize and play. Kids also have managed to incorporate the word “entitlement” into their daily beliefs and rules for living to the point where they feel free to do what they choose to do in the name of freedom. The REAL world doesn’t work that way. Few observe or have no boundaries. That to me is what school needs to help them learn. How to live without this warped sense of what’s right and fair.
What happened recently in Toronto is evidence of where things are heading. This is not just an example of wanton destruction of human life but a real message that says something is really wrong with how we are living our lives as a society–PAY ATTENTION folks, our kids and trying to tell us something and we aren’t listening very well.
Anyways, that’s how I see things. Thanks for stopping by.
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