Alternative Education Paradigms

I’m not educated on education.

I’m not a principal or a teacher and I haven’t set foot in a non collegiate classroom in 4 years. That being said, I have some ideas I’ve been thinking about in relation to education, and the paradigms we adhere to that govern our educational philosophies. However, before I begin, I suggest you go watch to get a glimpse into the source of the bulk of my inspiration. Watched it? Good, let’s move on.

I don’t really want to go into the history that Sir Ken talks about because frankly, I’m not that rehearsed on it. What he says makes sense to me and I can see on a very simple level why our system of education was designed for a different time and this is potentially problematic. The first major point that I want to adress is the unreal amount of resources we have at our disposal that students in the enlightenment never had. The internet. Facebook. Globalized news. Wikipedia. Twitter. Each of these could have such a tremendous impact on the way we teach and the way we learn. I joke about learning more from wikipedia than I have from Texas A&M, but there’s an element of truth in it. The amount of information, the people around us, and the global news that we have access to is overwhelming. We don’t need to search through libraries for hours and hours looking for multiple books to get bits and pieces of information anymore. In 10 seconds you can have infinitely more data on any subject imaginable than any library that I ever had access to growing up. And you don’t even need to leave the room.

This ties into my next point, and what hits the closest to home with me. With all this stimulation and information being forced into the faces of children, is it any wonder why they’re distracted? Is it any wonder why we’re relying on medication to anesthetize them? From waking up until going to sleep (and sometimes during sleep) kids are subject to television, computers, phones, radio, and countless apps in the realm of these devices. This doesn’t even include human interaction, subject matters in school, and introspective thought processes. It seems ignorant to imagine that a kid would be able to handle all of these stimulants efficiently. In order to cope, and in a sense brainwash them, we deaden them to their senses and experiences with medication. To quote Sir Ken, “We don’t need to be putting our children to sleep, we need to be waking them up”.

I think we need to get back to a subjective approach to education. What drives a kid? What motivates him? What is she drawn towards? This hold special significance in the realm of aesthetics and personal subjection to art. There are infinitely different types of music, and while there are certain bands or artists that are generally liked across the board with adults (Beatle’s, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra), it isn’t uncommon to have people with differing tastes. In fact, it would be weird if everyone enjoyed the exact same music. Then why is it that every junior high and high school student listens to the same 10 songs looped on a top 40 station? Can we really believe that each kid is drawn towards those songs without any preconceived influences? Probably not. By the same token, I can learn all day in my music theory class about the mixolydian mode of an augmented C minor chord, but I can’t be told to like it. I can’t be told to have it appeal to me by more than a cognitive level. I can be forced to read Hamlet, but I can’t be forced to enjoy it. I can be shown the Mona Lisa and have the complexities of it’s intricate details explained to me but I can’t be tricked into appreciating it on an aesthetic level. Why do we take this approach to education?

Let’s get hypothetical, shall we? Yup

Imagine than everyone in the world had the exact same skill level at playing the piano. Everyone has the same capacity for writing, reading, and performing music. Imagine we’re all on equal footing for writing a piano driven piece of music, and every single person write’s a 20 measure melody. Would any of them sound the same? Of course not. Just like we all have different voices, we all have different musical voices that come out only in our composing. If everyone has a unique musical voice, why are we not pushing to have these voices heard? If everyone sees things differently and has their ideas come to life on canvas uniquely, why don’t we strive to see it more? If we teach our children to conform in the arts, we’re destining them for failure. No one can write a Kevonian piece of music better than Kevin can. It’s a basic fact and by definition can’t be done.

If this is true then why do have a cookie cutter approach to school? Why do we produce children in “batches” and regulate them with standardized tests and standardized curriculum. Wouldn’t it be better to stimulate ideas and thought from people in groups? Why do we have children organized by age and age alone? Aren’t things like similar thought processes, maturity, intelligence level, capacity to learn, and divergent thinking more important to the learning process than age alone?

Is the standardization of education really the best approach to helping children produces creative ideas, and flourish as independent thinkers?


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