Conversations around education are more complicated than ever—from the advent of ed-tech to the impact of politics on the education system, to an increased focus on digital citizenship. There are so many moving parts to the education machine: a changing student body, the classroom environment, curriculum standards, teachers, parents, delivery methods…the list goes on and on. As we embark on a new age of education, are we really asking the right questions? Instead of focusing all of our time and energy into how we teach, shouldn’t we rethink what we teach?
The School of Life
“We’re so hung up on the challenges of running a massive education system, we’re failing to pinpoint the real source of its problems. These aren’t primarily about money, salaries or discipline. These are really only a consequence of a more fundamental problem. Right now, and with no one quite meaning for this to happen, we’ve simply got the wrong curriculum.”—The School of Life
The School of Life explores this idea in “What’s Education For?” a short film that highlights the challenges of modern-day schooling. The film posits that in an educational utopia, an effective curriculum would put the focus on work and relationships, teaching children how to navigate the two largest parts of their adult lives.
- Teach capitalism.
Rather than utilizing math classes for abstract concepts that students are likely to forget, the focus of learning math can be on how to deal with money and markets.
- Provide opportunities for children to explore the concept of self, and what they want to be when they grow up.
So many children (and adults) grow up with the impression that there are a finite number of career paths. By exposing students to the wide world of work, they can figure out which careers appeal most to them and be less likely to limit themselves in the future.
- Teach basic relationship skills. If we expect children to grow up and understand how to be kind and forgive, we must teach them implicitly what that means, and how they can apply these skills in everyday situations.
- We’re already teaching physical health in school--why not mental health, too? In this educational utopia, schooling would be a lifelong process, where children and adults have access to classes in anxiety and mood management.
All of this is easier said than done, especially on a large scale. But looking back on the transformation of education in the past fifty, twenty—even five—years, it’s easy to imagine a whole new world of possibilities for future generations of students. And of course, any change grows from the seed of an idea.
Feature image courtesy of Unsplash, Baim Hanif.