If your child tells you that a task, topic, class, or school in general is a waste of time, it is. Whether your role is raising or teaching that child, you have to decide what to do next. Whether you agree or not, carefully consider your response.  How important is it to sustain the status quo?  Are you willing to do whatever it takes to provide that child a meaningful education?  What if educating that child stretches you beyond your comfort zone?  For the sake of posterity, would you consider that many of the assumptions we collectively hold to be true about institutions of learning, may in fact be misguided?

One thought on “What are you going to do about it?

  1. I think it is important for educators to recognize the topics that students find unappealing. That something is unpalatable for students is not a testament to whether that topic is wrong or unnecessary but simply a question on how effectively the subject matter is presented. When it comes to schooling, I think little doubt should be placed on the usefulness of the details, topics, subjects, that comprise the curriculum itself. When a person is brought up in an environment where inquisitiveness is sufficiently fostered, everything becomes a valid subject for discussion and learning, whether it be literature, science, philosophy.. The greater problem I think is presenting things in a way that makes it appealing to students, so that they do not find topics pointless or a waste of time. This I think can be done by a context and question approach, ie, turn the topic into a question to challenge the student, but make sure to contextualize the question in the student’s life in a way that makes sense.

    For instance, make math a question of searching for abstract truths (theorems) that people from Pythagoras to Descartes have been trying to solve, so that the resulting branches like algebra, calculus, statistics etc make sense. And contextualize it by showing the collective results of mathematics, from as simple as a matter of learning logic (which should be easy enough to apply in daily living) to an explanation of various advances made in everything from developing medicine, making accurate maps, fine-tuning business models, making computers, polling elections, surveying whatever…

    The status quo can’t quite be fully forgotten or completely overturned in one go, but it shouldn’t be a barrier to evolving methods in education either. And finally, i think the output is a good measure of the assumptions in education. If the students are getting dumber, if the workforce is not as equipped as needed, then clearly there must be some fault in the educational model involved.

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